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GS01 Learning’s Role in Innovation and Problem Solving

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Wednesday, April 12

Mike Massamino’s second spaceflight was the final Space Shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. On that mission Mike was tasked with the most complicated spacewalk ever attempted: the in-space repair of a delicate scientific instrument inside of the telescope. A major miscue during that spacewalk nearly led to failure. But by leveraging their training, performance support tools, and critically problem-solving skills, the ground control team and the astronauts in space worked together to come up with an innovative solution that saved the day and the mission. Mike explains how although not every problem has an obvious solution, preparation and innovation can help us overcome unforeseen challenges.

Mike Massimino

Former NASA Astronaut, Senior Space Program Advisor and Professor

Columbia University

Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut, is a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University and the senior advisor for space programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. He received a BS from Columbia University, and MS degrees in mechanical engineering and technology and policy, as well as a PhD in mechanical engineering, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After working as an engineer at IBM, NASA, and McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, along with academic appointments at both Rice University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor Massimino was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1996, and is the veteran of two space flights, the fourth and fifth Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions in 2002 and 2009. Mike has a team record for the number of hours spacewalking in a single space shuttle mission, and was also the first person to tweet from space. During his NASA career he received two NASA Space Flight Medals, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the American Astronautical Society’s Flight Achievement Award, and the Star of Italian Solidarity (Italian knighthood).

At Columbia, Professor Massimino is teaching an undergraduate engineering course, Introduction to Human Space Flight, which harnesses his years of academic and professional experience. He is also collaborating on The Art of Engineering, a course in which all first-year engineers work on engineering projects with socially responsible themes.

Mike has made numerous television appearances, including a six-time recurring role as himself on the CBS hit comedy The Big Bang Theory. He has hosted Science Channel’s The Planets and its special Great American Eclipse. He is featured in National Geographic Channel’s series One Strange Rock and is the host for Science Channel’s series The Planets and Beyond. He is a frequent guest on television news and talk show programs, including NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and Fox News. He has also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk radio and television shows.

Mike’s book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, has received rave reviews and is a New York Times best-seller. He is a recipient of the 2017 Christopher Award, the Columbia University Community Impact Outstanding Community Service Award, and the Communications Award of the National Space Club. The street that Mike grew up on in Franklin Square, Long Island has been renamed “Mike Massimino Street”.