On an otherwise normal afternoon in late September, six CCA students and their instructor made history for the college.
At the NASA-funded Colorado Space Grant Consortium’s annual meeting in Durango, Colorado, consortium director Chris Koehler approached CCA Science Department faculty member Victor Andersen with a question. Koehler wanted to know if six of Andersen’s engineering students – Juvinni Pineda Bu-Assaf, Erchis Erdenebat, Will Pfouts, Maksym Pobyeda, Ashley Wolff, and Yi-Lin Wu – had an interest in participating in the national RockSat-X project, the consortium’s highest-level rocket project.
RockSat-X participants design and build various experiments over the course of a year. The experiments are then transported to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, where they are put on a suborbital rocket and launched to an altitude of 120 miles. The experiments are fully exposed to the environment of space, creating an additional layer of complexity that students who participate in the consortium’s other two rocket projects don’t have to take into account.
Andersen and his students agreed to participate, making CCA the first community college in the continental United States to participate in the RockSat-X project.
“We’re really pushing the envelope,” Andersen says. “Most of the participants in RockSat-X are university juniors and seniors who use this as their capstone project for their bachelor’s degree.”
(left photo) CCA mechanical engineering student Erchis Erdenebat works on an OpenCV program, which will allow him and the other members of the tracking team to see in real time how their experiment is performing when it’s up in space as part of the CCA RockSat-X project.
The other eight teams taking part in this year’s RockSat-X project hail from Capitol Technology University, College of the Canyons, Temple University, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Maryland, the University of Puerto Rico, Virginia Tech University, and the West Virginia SPACE Collaboration (which includes six colleges and universities).
Because of the complexity of RockSat-X, CCA students are working with Arapahoe Community College and Red Rocks Community College students on the project.
“That’s one of the really great things about this project. It replicates – on a smaller scale, of course – what you’d be doing on a much larger project with NASA or a private space organization,” Andersen adds. “There are fixed deadlines and you have to meet them. I’m always amazed at how much the students are willing to put in and how hard they’re willing to work. And the payoff is really gratifying.”
That payoff will come in August when the CCA students will travel 1,800 miles east to the Wallops facility to watch as their project is launched more than 100 miles above Earth on a 42-foot-long, 18-inch-wide Terrier Malemute rocket. The other teams’ experiments will also be on the rocket.
The CCA team’s project seeks to find a low-cost solution to the Kessler syndrome, a theory proposed by American astrophysicist and former NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978. The Kessler syndrome is used to describe a self-sustaining, cascading collision of space debris in low-Earth orbit. According to NASA, more than 500,000 pieces of debris, or “space junk,” are tracked as they orbit Earth. These pieces travel at speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour - fast enough for even a small piece to damage a satellite or a spacecraft.
(left photo) Ashley Wolff and Yi-Lin Wu show off their test results for a project related to RockSat-X.
Here’s how the CCA team’s project will work: When the rocket reaches the peak of its ascent and is in microgravity, a five-and-a-half-inch aluminum arm will extend from the rocket. A tube lined with rabbit fur will be attached to the top of the arm, and inside the tube will be an off-the-shelf Swiffer pad made of polyester. The team will use the highly electronegative Swiffer to build up a charge and attract the space debris to the highly electropositive rabbit fur. All the while, the team will use telemetry to collect data on what’s happening 120 miles above them.
“Knowing that the debris was captured with the Swiffer would be a huge success,” says Wolff, the project’s team lead. “But if that doesn’t work for whatever reason, knowing that the arm could extend out of the rocket would be considered a success, too.”
“We’d love to get video back; but if we don’t, we’ll still be able to get the hard data since we’ll be using telemetry,” Pfouts says.
The rocket will be in microgravity for three or four minutes. Then it will descend and land in the Atlantic Ocean, where NASA will retrieve it using a boat and a crane.
Between now and the launch, the team has plenty of work to do. They meet for an hour before class every Monday, for 10 or 20 minutes before class every Wednesday, and for at least three hours every Friday. The workload will only increase as the launch date approaches. Milestones have to be met, and mini-projects must be submitted for review every week. The team has already submitted conceptual, preliminary, and critical designs for review.
“It’s a lot of work and it’s challenging, but they’re certainly rising to the challenge,” Andersen explains.
So is it worth it working so hard and for so long on a project that will spend only a few minutes in space?
“Absolutely,” Wolff says. “It’s a lot of fun because we’re contributing to a greater cause.”
Pfouts couldn’t agree more. “It’s a real-world situation,” he says. “And there’s just something about having your thumbprint on something that went into space.”
CCA’s Red Fox spirit will be on full display next spring after the completion of a mural designed by CCA art students. The mural will feature red foxes running on and around the two windows of the wall, as well as plastic die-cut dandelions that will feature plaques listing the names of employees who have donated to the Community College of Aurora Foundation. The mural will be installed in the Administration Building on the wall that faces the Human Resources conference room.
The mural was discussed by the CCA Gives Hope committee last year and is intended to celebrate the generosity of CCA staff, says John Wolfkill, executive director of the Community College of Aurora Foundation. “The CCA Gives Hope campaign celebrates the life-changing generosity of our faculty and staff,” Wolfkill says.
At the same time, the mural engages CCA students and allows them to craft something they can be proud of. "It showcases the talent of our students and provides the opportunity to build their portfolio of work,” he adds.
CCA Art students submitted their designs this month for the mural space to Art faculty members Kate O’Donnell and Jonah Skurky-Thomas, then discussed the designs with Wolfkill. O’Donnell, Skurky-Thomas, and Wolfkill selected the red fox design submitted by student Camille Kay Hollister on December 12. Hollister and the students who work with her to install the mixed-media mural will each receive a $500 scholarship for their effort.
The winning design was chosen because the red foxes running along the wall reflected playfulness and joy. Also, that red fox theme can continue around the corner if the mural is expanded. The red-fox theme also fits with the Foundation’s chosen language for donors to the college – Red Fox Friends.
Staff members who donated $50 or more in a calendar year will have their names listed on the plaques. CCA students will work on the mural project beginning in the spring semester and will finish the work in April, in time for the spring Art show. Skurky-Thomas and O’Donnell will coordinate and oversee the mural creation and assist the students during the semester.
After its unveiling, Wolfkill envisions that the mural may be displayed for a few years, and at that point, the Foundation may opt to retire the mural or do something different in its place. The mural will also serve as an excellent piece for CCA students to include in their portfolios later in their careers, O’Donnell said.
“It’s amazing that CCA can give our students this opportunity for their resumes,” O’Donnell said. “Not many schools would do this.”
On November 9, Bobby Pace, chair of the Social Sciences Department, announced the names of students who will travel to New York City in March as part of the 2018 Model United Nations team. Students will compete with colleges across the United States and around the world. CCA’s last two Model United Nations teams have both won honorable mentions for their work.
This year’s team includes Kasahun Adnew, Julian Aranda, Chris Blaylock, Josh Bock, Emma Britt, Giovanna Ciambra, Kimmy Fry, Austin Greene, Luigi Guadarrama, Adam Isaacs, Kyle David Lawson, Adam Lemberg, Anca Roxana Lutescu, Josh Morgan, Christina Sachi Nakata, Carlos Neri, Sheridan Prince, Jose Reyna, Shadia Sikkema, Steven Vanhulle,and Sabrina Yusupova.
Theatre Department Fall Showcase
(left photo) CCA students Chase Brown and Genesis Miller perform a scene, “Lady Liberty and the Donut Girl,” during the Theatre Department Fall Showcase on December 1 in the Larry D. Carter Theater.
(right photo) Jarad Thain and Michael Tuccy perform a scene called “The Nerd” during the showcase.
Take Your Dog to Work Day
(left photo) Kyla Antony, director of the Center for Recruitment and Orientation, brought her dog, Paisley, to her office on Take Your Dog to Work Day on November 22.
(right photo) Eduardo Calles, peer advisor, and his dog, Lucy.
Student Success Awards
President Betsy Oudenhoven, Student Success Award winner Jaylem Durousseau, and Darius Smith, adjunct instructor in Political Science, during the Student Success Awards on December 1. Darius nominated Jaylem, who was one of 33 winners this year. Congratulations to all of our Student Success Award winners and thank you to everyone who nominated them!
Winter Fest 2017
(left photo) President Betsy Oudenhoven (left) and Lourdes Huici Clever, adjunct instructor in the World Languages Department, during the CCA holiday party on December 11 in the Rotunda.
(right photo) Banibrata Roy, (left) director of Institutional Research, and John Young, director of Financial Aid, at the holiday party.
Open Mic Night
(left photo) CCA student Rachel O’Dell performs a comedy routine during Open Mic Night on November 15 in the Rotunda.
(right photo) Candice Santos, student assistant in the Office of Student Life, performed a poem during the event.
Consulado General de México en Denver Scholarship
As part of its IME-Becas program, the Consulado General de México en Denver has awarded the CCA Foundation a $10,000 scholarship, which the CCA Foundation will match with an additional $10,000 to be awarded during the spring 2018 semester.
IME-Becas is a program administered by the Mexican government to support low-income Hispanic students living in the United States who are completing basic education or technological careers.
To support scholarship recipients for their second year at CCA, the CCA Foundation will provide an additional $20,000 in matching scholarship funds during the 2018-2019 academic year. The IME-Becas and matching scholarship dollars will support the CCA Foundation’s Aurora Gives Scholars program participants who are of Mexican origin.
(Caption): From left to right, John Wolfkill, executive director of the Community College of Aurora Foundation; Jose Puente Puente, CCA student; Berenice Rendón-Talavera, consul general of Mexico in Denver, and Chris Ward, vice president of Institutional Effectiveness.
CCA and Colorado Gives Day
CCA staff and faculty raised $22,955 for Colorado Gives Day! CCA Foundation staff are humbled and grateful for the generosity of the college’s staff: the Foundation’s goal was $13,500, and donations far surpassed that goal. “Thank you so much for supporting student scholarships. We value and appreciate you,” says Lynn Adams, assistant director of donor relations.
Christine Oliver – graduation processor in the Admissions, Registration, and Records Department – tries to walk in a straight line while wearing DUI goggles during the "Marijuana, Distracted Driving, and Bystander Intervention" event on November 16 in the Rotunda.
Pizza With the CCCS President
Colorado Community College System President Dr. Nancy McCallin speaks with Reginaldo Rosales Acosta, student assistant with the Office of Student Life, after her meeting with CCA staff, faculty, and instructors on November 17. McCallin met with CCA staff in the Rotunda to discuss the future of the CCCS system and new initiatives coming in 2018. McCallin will retire from her position in July 2018.
Congratulations to Victor Vialpando-Nuñez, dean of Academic Affairs for the School of Professional Studies and Sciences, for being selected as a member of the Latino Leadership Institute at the University of Denver. Victor will represent CCA well in this fellowship! – Submitted by Tricia Johnson, vice president of Academic Affairs.
Dr. Bobby Pace, chair of the Social Sciences Department, has been invited to apply for the Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation Faculty Fellows program at Brandeis University’s International Center for Ethics. Kudos to Bobby for being invited to represent Colorado to engage undergraduates at colleges and universities in state-level legislative change by learning to work with legislators, staffers, and community organizations to advance policy. – Submitted by Tricia Johnson, vice president of Academic Affairs.
The Strengthening Working Families Initiative was selected as one of 10 Bellwether Award nominees in the Workforce Development category. Our program was selected to compete for the 2018 Bellwether Award at the upcoming Community College Futures Assembly. Way to go, team! – Submitted by Tricia Johnson, vice president of Academic Affairs.
Let’s hear it for JoAnn Burkhart, faculty in the Computer and Digital Technologies Department, whose approach to competency-based education has garnered her some national attention. She was recently identified and interviewed by Skillful to share her innovative approach to curriculum design. We can’t wait to share the amazing video with you when it’s released! – Submitted by Tricia Johnson, vice president of Academic Affairs.
Brandon Williams, CCA History faculty, and his wife, Cara, welcomed their son, Summit Steinbeck Williams, on November 16. Summit weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces.
Derrick Haynes, dean of retention and student success, left CCA in December after more than three years at the college. He is planning to work on his book and pursue other endeavors. Before he left CCA he told those gathered at his farewell party on Dec. 8, “I want to challenge you to help students achieve their dreams.” (Photos by Sheryl Broadnax, administrative assistant in the Office of Disability and Equity.)
(left photo) Steven Zeeh (left), director of the Office of Disability and Equity, shakes hands with Derrick Haynes on his last day.
(right photo) Tamara Conley, academic program support specialist for the School of Liberal Arts, and Derrick Haynes.