My name is Vincent Scotti Jr. and I have been asked to tell you about my story and the journey, which was encouraged and made possible by the Florida Space Grant Consortium, which has taken me to this place and time.
It all started, while I was a student at Brevard Community College, I noticed a flyer on the bulletin board. The flyer was from FSGC and was promoting their Northrup Grumman Undergraduate Student Academy Program. This Program was intended to give undergrad students the opportunity to work on a group project building a payload, which included a GPS and a remote camera to send telemetry back to a console manned by the students. This Payload was launch from Kennedy Space Center visitor’s center and was tracked until the Balloon Burst. On the last day of the program, FSGC held a presentation of all the projects FSGC supports, in addition to all the student opportunities at NASA and at Kennedy Space Center here in Florida.
This was the start of my journey of being a motivated, capable and high enthusiastic Student, who wanted to work for NASA someday. A few months later, I received a phone call from Dr. Jaydeep Mukherjee Ph.D., who is the director of FSGC. The reason for the phone call was to see if I was interested in giving a speech in front of a 1,000 people and on national Television to give a student’s perspective on why we should save the Manned Space Program provided by the Space Shuttle here at Kennedy Space Center. After the Speech, I received another call asking me, if I would like to attend President Obama’s Speech here at Kennedy Space center in March, 2010. It seems I was one of nine students from Florida picked by the White House to attend President Obama’s Speech. This allowed me to meet Buzz Aldrin, A real national Hero for being the second Man to walk on the Moon and to allow me to shake hands with the Commander in Chief Himself, President Barack Obama.
These are some of the reasons, why I was so motivated to work for NASA, I then applied to many internship programs and I was chosen by NASA to be a spring intern in their Undergraduate Student Research Program. For my internship in this program, I was placed in the Kennedy Space Center IT Security Office. This was fate and my background giving me an opportunity of a lifetime. I was placed in an internship, which was to prepare me for my chosen field of Information Assurance/Cyber Security.
I excelled at this internship and because of my performance in carrying a full course load n school, graduating with Two Degrees and my internship duties; I was awarded a summer internship in the same position as the spring internship continuing my training. The process to extend my internship was not traditional, so FSGC helped the IT Business office find a way to make the internship possible by paying me through the FSGC intern program.
While at Kennedy Space Center, I was notified of being one of 20 undergrad students from across the country, who was awarded the NASA Undergraduate Aerospace Scholarship. This scholarship went a long way to funding my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology. While at Florida Tech, I was part of two senior design teams, which competed in the NASA Lunabotics Competition at Kennedy Space Center. The first year I supported the Team as a junior helping the team get the Lunabot ready for Competition. That year the Lunabot was awarded the Senior Design, Best in Senior Design Showcase Award from Florida Tech.
The second year, I was Project/Team Lead, Where I put together a wide range of talented student to build this year’s Senior design project Lunabot to compete at the 2012 NASA Lunabotics Competition. The senior design program encourages students to go out and raise the funding for their projects. I contacted FSGC and they were a major source of funding for our project that year. It enabled us to win runner up in the Florida Tech Senior Design Showcase and to place 5th out of 50 teams from around the world, while at the same time winning the NASA Lunabotics Team Spirit Award.
All these accomplishments and my Academic achievements has enabled me to be asked by FSGC to be the NASA/FSCG Student Ambassador to Florida Tech. While I was a Florida Tech Ambassador, I went to Brevard Community College and gave presentations on the merits of FSGC and the student programs they offer to students. I also gave presentations to fellow students at Florida Tech to inform them of the programs at FSGC, which include funding Student senior design projects, internships, space and aerospace student projects.
I have always believed in leading by example, my professors and fellow students always ask me why I work so hard. I explain to them, nothing worthwhile is free; you have to work for what you want in life. Because of my work ethic, determination and drive, I am taking a full course load and I will be graduating from Florida Tech with my Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Engineering in May, 2014.
I was offered a position in the IT Security office at Kennedy Space Center, so again I am taking a full course load to graduate, while at the same time working in the NASA IT Security office at Kennedy Space Center. Lastly, I was just notified that I was selected to be awarded the Outstanding Senior Award for academic excellence in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology.
So as you can see, hard work, determination and taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves can go a long way to fulfilling your dreams and making you successful in life. The Florida Space Grant Consortium was a big part of making my journey a success and providing me with access to the opportunities, which can give you a step up in life.
Vincent Scotti Jr.
Florida Institute of Technology
NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium
IT Security Specialist II