Student Spotlight: Andrew Krall
Andrew Krall didn’t do well in physics during high school.
“Halfway through my pre-calculus course at College of DuPage, I was studying ellipses and learned that they can be used to calculate orbits,” he said. “I started to see how everything connected together – math and physics and space. It just snowballed from there. I even gave two speeches in speech class on space.”
In 2017, Krall had an opportunity to travel to NASA’s Langley Research Center as part of the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS). He learned about the NCAS program from Associate Professor of Physics Rumiana Nikolova and initially qualified for a five-week online scholars program. He then was selected as one of 304 community college students from across the country to travel to NASA.
During the four-day visit, he was part of a team that developed and tested a prototype Mars rover, created a company infrastructure, managed a budget, and developed communications and outreach. Krall’s team voted him as its MVP.
“A large part of the experience was networking. It was exciting to meet employees who started at a community college and now work for NASA,” he said. “It was an intense experience. It opened my eyes to what NASA can do. It also helped me narrow my career focus.”
Krall continues to build on this life-changing experience. He is now a part of the COD Astronomy Club, where he currently is the project manager officer, and enjoyed a field trip to Yerkes Observatory in Lake Geneva.
“We got to use the world’s largest and last built refracting telescope and see stars and star clusters. It was so cool,” he said. “I have two favorite parts of that trip: seeing COD Professor Joe DalSanto turn into a kid when he got to look at his favorite stars and star clusters with the 60 foot-long telescope, and being able to see the historical records that the Observatory had. I got to hold one of the original books written by James Maxwell, a very famous electromagnetic scientist. Prof. DalSanto said I looked like a kid when I held the book because I was in awe of such a moment.”
Krall is majoring in Physics and would like to pursue a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. He then wants to work for NASA or SpaceX and ideally would like to become an astronaut.
“If I can’t go to Mars or work on a rover that goes to Mars, I want to save the earth,” he said. “It’s a cultural thing with my generation. My friends and I always talk about what we can do to help the planet.”
As for College of DuPage, he is amazed by the quality of his educational foundation.
“I’ve been able to take all of my gen eds and it’s cool how flexible my schedule can be,” he said. “I have so many options to pick and choose from, and this allows me to work and save money. I also didn’t come to COD expecting to go to NASA, and going to NASA was a life-changer. I’ve learned more of who I am as a person. At NCAS, I didn’t originally have the leader role, but I filled in the gaps needed to keep the group running coherently. It was a learning lesson for me and I didn't even realize it. I like and want to lead, and I have learned that I have the ability to be a leader.
“In just those four days at NCAS, I learned a valuable lesson. I have to work harder than anybody else in order to get what I want. I want to be an astronaut. I will do everything I can to get into space and I’m not letting anything stop me.”
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