Bakersfield College will host NASA engineer, astronaut, and Central Valley native Jose Hernandez on Tuesday, March 19 as part of the Kern County Science Fair. The event is sponsored by a Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) collaborative grant between California State University, Bakersfield and Bakersfield College. Hernandez will speak in Bakersfield College’s Levan Center from 12:15 – 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19. Hernandez was born in French Camp, California, in 1962. For much of his childhood, he worked side-by-side with his parents, picking crops in the San Joaquin Valley. Despite their humble life, Hernandez’s parents stressed education and hard work as the path to success. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in engineering from University of the Pacific and master’s degree in engineering from UC Santa Barbara, Hernandez became an engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He worked to develop a way to turn Cold War technology into the first full-field digital mammography imaging system. Hernandez understands the need for hard work and diligence to realize a dream. After watching Apollo 17 take men to the moon when he was 9, Hernandez wanted to become an astronaut. He applied to NASA 12 times before finally being accepted – after he’d received a pilot’s license, became a master SCUBA diver, and learned to speak conversational Russian. In August of 2009, Hernandez flew a 14-day mission as flight engineer on Space Shuttle Discovery.