NASA astronaut reflects on his time at UMass Dartmouth
On Friday, December 1, NASA astronaut and UMass Dartmouth alumnus Scott Tingle (’87) was interviewed about his time at UMass Dartmouth. He came to UMass Dartmouth after graduating from Blue Hills Regional Technical School. Tingle is currently residing at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia to prepare for his upcoming space flight. He will be heading to the International Space Station on December 17.
Tingle is one of nine members of the 20th NASA astronaut class, selected in July 2009. His astronaut training has included scientific and technical briefings; intensive instruction in space station systems, spacewalks, and robotics; physiological training; T-38 flight training; and water and wilderness survival training.
A U.S. Navy captain, Tingle grew up in Randolph, Massachusetts, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. Tingle was commissioned as a U.S. Navy officer in 1991, and accumulated more than 4,500 flight hours and 54 combat missions.
Did you know during your time at UMass Dartmouth that you wanted to be an astronaut?
Absolutely, I absolutely did. I joined the Navy when I was at UMass, I enlisted in 1984 with the thought that hopefully I would get into aviation and then space. At that timeframe, most of the folks that I hung out with, learned with, and studied with knew that I wanted to be an astronaut. I used to hang out with fellow pilots and we talked about it all the time.
Did this seem like an achievable goal at the time?
Yes it did, I thought it was a goal that I could achieve at that moment. I specifically remember standing outside the lecture hall when the space shuttle blew up back in the 1980’s, and that was a very sad day for me. There were some folks in the school that were with me on that and there were some folks in school that didn’t understand, but the folks that knew me understood that that was a tough day.
What about your time at UMass Dartmouth prepared you for this journey?
Well, I've got to tell you, engineering is at the heart of anything that we're going to do. Engineering creates futures and the folks at UMass, such as Dr. Ron DiPippo, Dr. Jay Amesbury, and Dr. John Rice, professors like that, took a one on one mentor type relationship with their students, which is absolutely phenomenal. I came out of the University of Massachusetts with a really solid handle of the basics in engineering, math and physics. That just followed me forever.
Do you think we need to put more importance on education?
Absolutely. You can’t do anything without education. I’ve always said a good education is the foundation to the future. It doesn’t matter if you want to go to a trade school or if you want to go work through a Ph.D. and go do something theoretical, you need to be smart on what the smart people that came before you did so that you can bring their work to another level.
Do you have any advice for students that want to achieve big dreams?
All I can say is set a course, set a goal and don’t be afraid on where the journey brings you. You will have some barriers that you will have to go over or go around, or you may change your mind, but if you’ve got a plan, you can work it and you will get there.
Best of luck on your journey Scott, UMass is rooting for you.
Thank you, go UMass!