Press Release
Posted December 21, 2020

Two Lorain County Community College micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) program students have been awarded $1,000 scholarships from the NASA/Ohio Space Grant Consortium (OSGC) Community College Scholarship program.

The students – Ryan Palmer of Sheffield Village and Emily Williams of Grafton – are both working on their associate degree and plan to continue on to earn the applied bachelor’s degree in MEMS, the only one of its kind offered at an Ohio community college.

Two students in blue lab coats and masks
Ryan Palmer and Emily Williams

They will utilize the NASA scholarship money to purchase needed supplies and equipment to complete their research projects. Scholarship recipients are required to initiate and complete a research project under the guidance of a faculty member. Palmer and Williams will present a poster detailing their research at the Annual Student Research Symposium in April at the Ohio Aerospace Institute in Cleveland.

“The grant money will go directly towards the cost of research and the presentation of a topic that I have become very passionate about,” Williams said.

“I think NASA made a fantastic decision choosing both Emily and Ryan. They have demonstrated an interest and academic drive in understanding electronic hardware and the processes of how it’s designed, manufactured, tested, and reworked,” said Johnny Vanderford, LCCC assistant professor of MEMS and director of the LCCC Manufacturing Electronics Rework Institute for Training (MERIT).

Williams, 19, is researching the long-term effects of lead solder and flux inhalation on the human body. Palmer, 20, is researching material property changes based on process variations of lead-free solder.

“My findings being published by NASA will bring light to the current lack of scientific study on this workplace risk, and why preventive measures should be implemented to protect the health and livelihood of millions of manufacturing employees nationwide,” Williams said.

“I am super excited to have been selected to receive the grant. Working on the research project and learning how to use the x-ray inspection machine to conduct the tests will be an amazing learning experience,” Palmer said.

The research project must have a direct relationship to STEM and be in alignment with one of four NASA mission directorates, which are: Aeronautics Research Mission, Human Exploration and Operations Mission, Science Mission and Space Technology Mission.

“I’m looking forward to the students’ presentations being shared with our local industry partners, as I believe they will take a great interest in Emily and Ryan’s NASA research and findings,” Vanderford said. “A publication and presentation at NASA will add to their success.”

Palmer and Williams have enhanced their academics with jobs and internships in the industry, Vanderford noted. Williams works at Vexos in LaGrange as a manufacturing assembler and engineering intern focusing on manufacturing biomedical technology. Palmer works at LCCC as a laboratory assistant in the electronics courses helping students prototype circuits on breadboards (a board for making an experimental model of an electric circuit).

LCCC offers a complete pathway into a MEMS career starting with a short-term certificate and one-year certificate that give an understanding of how MEMS are designed and fabricated while preparing graduates to work as entry-level technicians. The associate degree builds on those certificates and trains students to work at the operator level in a class-10,000 cleanroom. The applied bachelor’s degree in MEMS develops knowledge in computer science, electronics, soldering, chemistry and mechanics and teaches students to perform work on a microscopic scale.

LCCC enhances the academic training by partnering with local businesses to offer paid work-based learning experiences in MEMS. Students may be employed full- or part-time in an entry-level job or internship with local businesses while enrolled in the MEMS program. These businesses are actively looking to attract and retain employees.

For more information on the MEMS programs at LCCC visit

The Ohio Space Grant Consortium (OSGC) was established in 1989 (along with the original Ohio 12-member universities) by the United States Congress, and is part of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program known as “Space Grant” administered through the Office of STEM Engagement at NASA Headquarters. There are 52 consortia, one in each state, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Space Grant is a unique national network of colleges and universities working to expand opportunities for Americans to understand and participate in NASA’s aeronautics and space projects by supporting and enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) through scholarships, fellowships, higher education, research infrastructure, pre-college (K-12), and informal education public outreach efforts. The Space Grant national network includes over 1,000 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, museums, science centers, and state and local agencies.