09/25/12 — She will soar with NASA

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She will soar with NASA

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 25, 2012 1:46 PM

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Isabelle Flock, 18, a second year student at Wayne Community College, works on a robotics project during an automotive class. Ms. Flock was selected as one of 40 students to be named a National Community College Aerospace Scholar.

Isabelle Flock has always enjoyed anything to do with science, from the time she was a little girl growing up on Long Island, N.Y.

"My dad was a boiler mechanic. When I was like 5, I would go to work with him and take readings on the boilers," she said.

She liked it all -- basic electricity, running wires -- and even took an automotive class in high school.

"I figured it would be a good thing to know," she shrugged.

The facet she was particularly interested in, though, was astronomy.

"I read a lot of science magazines and was glad when we moved to Greenville and had the NASA Channel on TV," she said.

Truth be told, working with NASA would probably be her dream job.

And now, the second-year student in the automotive/GM ASEP program at Wayne Community College is getting her chance to work with NASA engineers.

The 18-year-old is one of 40 students from across the country chosen as a National Community College Aerospace Scholar. She will attend a three-day experience at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., next month.

Earlier in the summer, she made the first cut, as 180 community college students competed for the chance to learn more about NASA and become part of future space exploration.

Over the summer, she completed 20 hours of competitive web-based course work and interacted online with fellow participants and NASA engineers. Based upon grades for those lessons, re-evaluation of the initial application and an essay, the field was pared down to the 40 finalists.

The next phase, Oct. 23-25, will include a tour of the facilities, attending engineering, scientist and astronaut briefings and participating in a team project led by NASA engineers.

According to the NASA release on the program, students will form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each company will be responsible for developing a prototype rover, designing a line drawing of it and forming the company infrastructure including budget, communications and presentation.

"I'm feeling very excited," Ms. Flock said. "It will be hands-on with an engineer to make a mini-Rover."

Her solid background in the automotive end of things probably didn't hurt in the application selection process, officials at the college said.

"This is all her," said Craig Foucht, transportation systems technology department chairman at WCC, who first met Isabelle at a Skills USA event two years ago and was impressed even then. "I told her she needed to come down here, told her about the GM ASEP program."

While the field is male-dominant, Foucht said Ms. Flock has proven herself time and again.

"We have got three females down here right now," he said. "It definitely takes some unique females to be able to handle that guy camaraderie and break into it.

"She's done very well with that. Her knowledge is probably her biggest strength. She really applies herself. She's definitely got the guys' respect around here, without a doubt. We're all proud of her, very proud of her."

When she finishes at WCC, she intends to further her education at N.C. State University, in the mechanical engineering program. She is also currently working as an internship mechanic at a car dealership in Greenville, as part of her cooperative learning experience.

In the meantime, the upcoming opportunity will be invaluable, she says.

"I have been told if you're somebody they truly like, they'll follow through your four years and hopefully offer you an internship," she said.