Oscar Miguel Gomez
Oscar Miguel Gomez has aspirations to become an astronaut and Compton College is giving him the educational foundation to follow his career dreams. He is currently a mechanical engineering major and is interested in aviation and robotics.
Gomez has attended Compton College part-time since 2013 to achieve his dream while also working full-time and co-parenting his eight-year-old son. He is currently completing his core classes in preparation for graduation and is in the process of forming a plan for his next steps. He is considering transferring to a four-year university or joining the military. "I'm trying to formulate the best plan for boosting my odds in learning the things I need to know to get where I want to go," he said.
Gomez has participated in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program and several online NASA programs while attending Compton College. The NCAS program begins with a five-week online course leading up to a four-day program at a NASA center. Gomez was assigned to NASA's AMES research center in San Jose, California, which offered students the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and other subject matter experts to learn about the different types of careers available in science and engineering.
He also participated in the Lucy Student Pipeline Accelerator and Competency Enabler (L’Space) Program. This program is the student collaboration portion of NASA's Lucy asteroid mission and is designed to engage higher education science and engineering students in mentor-based, experiential STEM workforce preparation to enable a highly-qualified talent pool for NASA's workforce needs. Through this 12-week virtual program, Gomez worked on a project designing a miniature rover to land on the surface of the moon, and learned how to pitch a project to NASA and sell the project idea.
In fall 2019, Gomez was awarded an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Diversity Scholarship and the opportunity to attend the 70th International Astronautical Conference (IAC) in Washington, D.C. The AIAA Diversity Scholars Program provides opportunities for underrepresented university students pursuing a degree in aerospace to attend their annual conference. AIAA forums draw professionals worldwide, offering scholars the opportunity to network, learn about opportunities in the aerospace industry, and hear from engineers and scientists on the latest research and development findings. "From start to finish – attending this event was dream come true," he said. "I felt that I was in the right place at the right time."
Gomez is a member of the student STEM Club and credits the Compton College STEM Center with informing him about the AIAA Diversity Scholarship. "I want students to know that 'We can do this.' The space industry wants to include everyone, which is why they offer these types of programs - to open up these opportunities to students who might not otherwise get the exposure," said Gomez. Compton College's STEM Center also helped Gomez procure several internships associated with NASA and other aerospace companies.
Gomez also benefits from Compton College's award-winning Formerly Incarcerated Students in Transition (F.I.S.T.) program. The F.I.S.T. program provides academic, social and economic support for students reentering the community after incarceration. The program helps students develop confidence in themselves and their abilities through regular support meetings, skills training, and professional development, career counseling and entrepreneurship exploration, and basic skills enhancement. Gomez has overcome and learned from many obstacles in his past. "I want others to realize it's not where you come from, it is where you are going," he said.
A native of Compton, Gomez decided to attend Compton College because Compton is the city where his roots were established. He wanted to get back to the city where he was raised and work hard to become a success so he can provide a positive example to his community. "Compton College is like my second home," said Gomez. "I have learned a lot from my professors, advisors and peers. I've learned how to be persistent when the first answer you might get is 'no.'"