Out of this World

Flight controller Allison Bolinger showcased astronauts’ heavy-duty spacesuits and tools.
—Photo by Kimberly Flores

Columbia recently hosted a cosmic triple-header when an astronaut and two elite NASA engineers set down on campus in February as part of the School’s Extreme Engineering series. Over three consecutive nights hosted by Mechanical Engineering Professor and former astronaut Michael J. Massimino, featured speakers shared their experiences and encouraged students to consider careers in space.

Geologist Dean Eppler discussed the development, testing, and repair of helmets and other extraterrestrial gear to handle extreme conditions in space with a focus on Mars. Flight controller Allison Bolinger described the exhaustive 22-month International Space Station training regimen and showcased astronauts’ heavy-duty spacesuits and tools. NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren detailed life aboard the ISS, which he served on as a flight engineer and mission specialist last year.

All three guest speakers described their work with NASA as the engineering adventure of a lifetime and urged Columbia engineers to aim high.

“There’s nothing like getting a shout-out from space,” said Bolinger, who started her journey as a teenager at Space Camp. “As we say at NASA, shoot for the moon—even if you miss, you’ll still be up among the stars.”

Spearheaded by Dean Mary C. Boyce and Massimino, Extreme Engineering showcases the unique and diverse fields of engineering through its videos and speaker series.

—by Jesse Adams

More from Extreme Engineering

Waste No More: A New Generation of Environmental Engineers
In this latest installment of the Extreme Engineering video series, take a tour of MacArthur winner and Environmental Engineering Professor Kartik Chandran’s lab to find out how they engineer bacteria to transform waste into resources.
—Video by Jane Nisselson
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