COS students return from NASA

When friends at school suggested College of the Sequoias engineering major, Andrew Bardone, apply for the National Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) online program, he did, and got accepted. Just returned from a late October workshop related to the program, Bardone shares the experience of a lifetime.

As part of the program, Bardone and fellow COS student Christian Cagnino, spent six weeks this summer working online with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, known the world over as NASA. They focused on the history, current, and future exploration of Mars, after which, a detailed proposal for a Mars rover launch, mission and landing was required.

The program wrapped up by asking for a paper on how to get the public involved. Andrew’s public relations ideas included using podcasts, webinars, an ongoing mini-series of sorts, and Netflix™, to make a live broadcast of a launch something the country could gather together to witness, “the way we used to watch moon landings,” said Bardone.

His ideas and hard work was so well received, Bardone was chosen to take part in a three-day program at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, located in Edwards, California, this October. The students met with Assistant Director for Strategic Implementation, Steven Schmidt, and were given a tour. Visiting students were put into teams and given more tasks to complete. Bardone says a personal highlight was getting to fly an F-16 simulator, followed closely by getting to be in the same room as the lunar module used by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969.

“Getting to see what you could be doing is a huge motivator,” Andrew said, adding that, “meeting these people, and getting to network with them, was the best part.”

Originally from Visalia, Andrew had a well-paying job as a correctional deputy, and was buying a home in Exeter, when he began to wonder if he could do that for another 30, or more, years. Two years ago, he spoke to his parents about his plans to attend school full time, and asked if he could move back home. With their support, Andrew left his job, rented out his home in Exeter, and became a full-time COS student. He works part-time in the campus bookstore, but is careful to allow plenty of time for classes and studying.

It hasn’t been easy; Bardone started at the lowest algebra class and has worked his way up to calculus. He says the best way to resolve academic struggles is to remind himself of the big goal, a future in a career he enjoys. After the NASA program, he no longer sees a career there as something only for the academic elite.

Bardone credits his father as his inspiration to work hard. He also credits Duane Goodwin, Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Director & Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Chapter Advisor at COS, for excellent support, and opportunities such as internships and excursions to various universities. In three semesters, Bardone will graduate from COS; he plans to apply to various universities to achieve a degree in engineering. For more information about MESA and the Engineering programs at COS, contact Duane Goodwin, or visit

College of the Sequoias Community College District is a two-year California community college offering educational and career technical programs for the residents of its district in Tulare and Kings counties. In addition to the campus in Visalia, COS operates a full-service center in Hanford that is home to the college’s police and fire academies. COS also opened its Tulare College Center in January 2013. It is a full-service college center and the home of COS’ agriculture and other programs. For more information about COS, please visit our website.

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