San Jacinto College engineering student Amir Timani recently completed participation in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) workshop at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

NCAS is a five-week online scholars program that culminates with a four-day on-site workshop at the JPL. As part of the workshop, students form teams as fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team is responsible for developing and testing a prototype rover, forming a company infrastructure, managing a budget, and developing communications and outreach. Students also have opportunities to interact with NASA engineers as they learn more about careers in science and engineering. Timani was selected as one of 216 community college students nationwide to participate in this year’s NCAS program.

“NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA,” said Tania B. Davis, Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Manager. “NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to and ultimately entering the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague.”  

For Timani, an opportunity to participate in one of NASA’s prestigious educational programs has only been a dream until now. “Having been raised in Lebanon my whole life, I always dreamed of coming to the U.S.A.,” said Timani. “Getting the chance to get my education here has been wonderful in itself, but finding out that I was chosen to participate in NCAS was unbelievable. Any kind of opportunity involving NASA would be a dream to all of us back home in Lebanon, so I cannot be grateful enough.”

Engineering program coordinator and professor, Dr. Karen Duston, says that Timani’s hardwork always speaks for itself. “Oftentimes students from community colleges feel that they either do not have the opportunities or cannot perform as students from universities do,” said Dr. Duston. “Amir has demonstrated that San Jacinto College students can earn the opportunities if they want and can perform at very high levels. He is definitely a role model for our engineering students.”

Engineering roots run deep for Timani. Aside from his own natural interest in math and physics, his father and brother are both successful engineers, which has motivated him to pursue an engineering career even more. “Whenever I see how happy they are, and how interesting their jobs are, it makes me more interested in the field as well,” he said.

Timani is already making progress toward his career goals. In addition to being accepted into the NCAS program, he was also recently accepted to the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering mechanical engineering program and plans to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in 2018.

“San Jacinto College has not only prepared me for my career, but also life outside of my career. College life has made me more responsible and passionate about my future. The academic standards I have been held to and the awesome professors have made all of these opportunities possible for me.”

For more information on the San Jacinto College engineering sciences associate degree program, visit


About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

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