Princeton Day School welcomed Dr. Michael Massimino, NASA Astronaut and Professor at Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, to campus on Monday, January 8 to present an assembly to our Upper School students and work with a smaller group of students in our STEAM Center.
Dr. Massimino spoke to students about his dream of becoming an astronaut after watching the historic footage of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. But he almost let his dream die as he realized his fear of heights, his aversion to swimming, and his bad eyesight might stand in the way. He decided to study what he loved--math and science--in the form of engineering, earning degrees at Columbia and MIT. He then he decided to pursue his original dream and apply to be an astronaut. He was rejected three times over the course of many years before finally being accepted at NASA. Most inspiring were Dr. Massimino's stories of overcoming his shortcomings--most notably, his bad eyesight, by studying with a teacher on improving his eyesight (this was before the days of ubiquitous lasik eye surgery). He then described his training at NASA in a huge pool to learn how to operate in the enormous space suit and, finally, his time in space, making repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Dr. Massimino gave a rousing presentation about the crucial importance of teamwork, following what you love, and asking for help when you need it. He wrote about his experiences in the New York Times bestseller Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, and also serves as the Senior Advisor of Space Programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. When not otherwise engaged, you may even catch him on "The Big Bang Theory" where he appears in a recurring role. Here are some photos from Dr. Massimino visit.