Meet a Roadrunner: UTSA student Ricco Aceves just landed a prestigious internship with NASA

Ricco Aceves

Ricco Aceves

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(Feb. 5, 2014) -- Meet Ricco Aceves. He is one of only 150 students from 70 universities in the country who has been accepted into the prestigious NASA Pathways Intern Employment Program.

Over the next two fall and summer semesters, he will move to Houston to work alongside professional engineers at the Johnson Space Center. The NASA Pathways internship gives undergraduates the opportunity to explore federal careers while still in school with the possibility of being hired upon graduation.

"NASA is home to many of the best engineers and scientists and my goal is to be part of that group," says Aceves. "NASA's vision states, 'To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown...,' which is the same vision that I have for myself. To be part of a team that benefits humankind was a dream -- now it's becoming a reality."

This isn't Aceves' first encounter with NASA. As a senior in high school, he was accepted into NASA's Career Exploration Program and worked with a team to engineer and program a speech-dependent robotic arm that is now utilized as a prototype tool for astronauts.

A junior in electrical engineering, Aceves is vice president of the UTSA chapter of MAES, a national organization for the development of Latinos in science and engineering. Through MAES, Aceves participates in many outreach programs in area high schools.

Aceves is proud to represent UTSA, not only at NASA but also when he's speaking to students in the community about the exciting careers that a degree in engineering, math or science affords.

"The atmosphere at UTSA is remarkable. I feel as though I belong here and it's a home away from home," he said. "What I really like about being at UTSA is that I can be a part of the growth that is taking place at this institution. We're on our way to become a top tier university, and I'm glad that I can help move us in that direction."

Aceves credits his mentor, Manuel Maldonado, program manager for the UTSA Office of P-20 Initiatives, as the person who inspired him the most.

"Ricco has been one of the best student leaders that we have had within our office," said Maldonado. "I believe that he exemplifies the Top Scholar student that the university is attracting and will continue to attract in the future. He is a true ambassador of UTSA, and it has been a pleasure watching him grow as a student leader, a researcher and as a young man."

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