Hostos Students Headed to NASA

Hostos Community College Students Headed to NASA

Monday, June 6, 2011 (New York) –Three accomplished students from Eugenio María de Hostos Community College will participate in a ten-week summer program at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in New York City and Greenbelt, Maryland, and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The selection of Nicolas De Jesús, Aridia Polanco, and Adrián Posada came about as a result of the Achieving Proficiency in Engineering Research and STEM Education NASA Initiative, a three-year collaborative project between the New York City College of Technology (City Tech) and Hostos, both of which are minority-serving institutions. Working in a consortium, Hostos and City Tech are sharing a $442,015 grant that went into effect in January 2011 and will continue through 2013. This collaborative NASA initiative, which was specifically proposed for student populations that are demographically underrepresented in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), places Hostos and City Tech in the forefront of its educational technology component, a disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and cross-institutional alliance that is intended to provide stronger and longer-lasting student-mentor relationships primarily for African-American and Hispanic students.

Regarding this initiative, President, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez stated that, “Hostos has achieved distinction in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and will continue to demonstrate academic achievement and scholarship in these fields: “We have committed faculty members who focus on providing our students with the strongest academic foundation possible. Our inclusion in this initiative speaks for itself, and I am extremely proud of the students and grateful to Professor Nieves Angulo for her dedication and leadership.”

The Achieving Proficiency in Engineering Research and STEM Initiative emphasizes research work at NASA. The group will conduct studies, gain practical experience in developing analytical skills, and increase their ability and proficiency by working in teams. This crucial component of the program has the over-arching goal of increasing the participants’ graduation rates at two- and four-year colleges.

According to Dr. Nieves Angulo, an Associate Professor and co-principal investigator for the program, the selection process is not simple: “It’s not only about having a high GPA, but also about working in teams, adapting to different environments, and meeting NASA’s U.S. citizenship requirement. The students, two Latino males and one Latina female, are engaged and committed and were thrilled to go to NASA to learn together.”

To achieve their goals, City Tech and Hostos will offer articulation support to facilitate transfer to four-year colleges; expand efforts to assist and guide high-school students to colleges that offer STEM education through such programs as Proyecto Access; encourage student-faculty research teams; improve curriculum and update current courses that students can take at both institutions; improve and strengthen the engineering program by partnering with NASA centers and other organizations; and strengthen faculty development and exposure to NASA research areas and opportunities.

The team of highly qualified and distinguished faculty is led by the Principal Investigator, Dr. Gaffar Gailani, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Industrial Design Technology at City Tech. The other team members and Co-Principal Investigators are Dr. Nieves Angulo, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Hostos; Dr. Sidi Berri, Associate Professor and Chair of the Mechanical Engineering & Industrial Design Technology Department at City Tech; and Dr. Reginald Blake, Associate Professor in the Physics Department at City Tech.

Dr. Nieves Angulo (Co-PI) is an Associate Professor in the Mathematics Department and the Coordinator of the Electrical and Civil Engineering programs in the Mathematics Department at Hostos. She has a B.A. and M.A. in Mathematics from Hunter College of CUNY, and an M.S and Ed.D. in Mathematics Education from Columbia University. Dr. Angulo served as the Deputy Chair of Mathematics Department from 2001 to 2004 and Director of the Honors Program at the College from 2005 to 2009. She is also a member of Metro-Math—The Center for Mathematics in American Cities at the Graduate Center of CUNY, which researched the mathematics component of the New York City Teaching Fellow Program.

Dr. Angulo worked in the development and implementation of the Dual/Joint Engineering Programs with City College in 2003. In 2005, a National Science Foundation grant funded an initiative with City College entitled Bridges to Engineering Success for Transfers, which made it possible for engineering students at Hostos to participate in activities such as the following: NASA Day, at which many NASA scientists from Goddard, Glenn, and Marshall gave presentations; research training for students with faculty mentors; the summer program of the Fast Transfer Retention Academic at CCNY (Fast TRACC), which helped students transfer from community colleges to senior colleges; and advance training for engineering students, a month-long seminar that gave students the opportunity to work with faculty members and advance in math, physics, and chemistry. Dr. Angulo also established the Engineering Club at Hostos through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

About Hostos Community College

Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, part of the City University of New York system, was founded in 1968.  Located in the South Bronx, the college currently serves more than 6,000 students.  In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Continuing Education and Professional Studies Department that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in the fall of 1970 to the spring 2010 enrollment of over 6,000 students.  The college also serves an additional 10,000 students through its Continuing Education and Professional Studies Department. For more news and stories about Hostos Community College visit