MHCC Engineering Student Wins NASA Scholarship

Posted: June 9, 2011


Duncan Meyers is a rising star.

At 32 years old, he has held more than 40 jobs in 23 different industries – from clean room tech to security officer to ice cream truck driver. And that’s just in the past 12 years. Remarkably, he has used every one of those experiences to prepare himself for a career in engineering.

Meyers, an engineering student at Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC), took a giant step closer to achieving his dream recently when he visited the famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., as one of NASA’s National Community College Aerospace Scholars.

Meyers was one of 80 students chosen from 300 applicants around the country after a long competitive evaluation. His prize: To travel to JPL and work in teams to design and present ideas for a theoretical Mars rover mission to melt bits of the planet’s surface to pave runways for eventual manned landings. The team also had to come up with ways to fund the mission.

“I didn’t know what to expect at JPL,” Meyers says, “other than the cutting edge of technology and a lot of very smart people, of course. But what I really learned from this experience was the NASA proposal process — how to present an idea to NASA engineers and win a contract. That’s going to serve me very well in my future as an entrepreneurial engineer.”

Meyers means it. He has already formed a start-up company to create new materials from recycled EPS (Styrofoam) and may one day pitch his idea to NASA.

He hopes to gain engineering experience in multiple disciplines over the next few years, and when it comes to his longer-range plans…how about building an ion-drive engine for interspace travel? That’s also on his list.

Meyers has been a tinkerer and inventor since he was a kid, and he has gained much from his MHCC education. He heard about the NASA program from Christina Nelson, another MHCC engineering student who was named a NASA scholar last year.

“At Mt. Hood Community College, I have access to a great network of people and technology,” Meyers says, “plus good information on how to form a business. There are so many tools at your fingertips and mentors to show you how to use them. I guess you could say I’m a mover and shaker, and I’ve done my best to learn from everyone at the College and expand the benefits of my education. What you know and who you know are equally important! Being a NASA scholar was an incredible experience and opportunity — and I wouldn’t mind working at JPL someday!”

Meyers plans to transfer to Portland State University after graduation from MHCC next June.

For information on MHCC’s engineering program, please contact Clyde Jensen, Dean, at 503-491-7365, or clyde.jensen@mhcc.edu .

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 Last Modified: 6/15/2011 04:23:55 PM