Drawing on his extensive experience with the air and space industry, Andy Allen ME ’77 presented a special lecture to the College of Engineering entitled “Technological Packing for a Trip to Space” as part of The Patrick J. Cunningham Jr. and Susan Ward ’80 Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering on April 1. Allen shared insights into and a behind-the-scenes look at the American space program and the role space exploration plays in advancing society.
Throughout his multimedia presentation, which included photos and video from his own space travels, Allen explained that space exploration drives technology. He argued that governments have a responsibility to create new economic opportunities, that technology is at the center of economic growth, and that engineers will be the ones who make technological leaps necessary for national security, growth, and scientific progress possible. He reminded the nearly 100 students and faculty in attendance that “it is often said that the difference between fiction and fact is sometimes only time.” He also shared insights into what it takes to live and work in space, how the human body reacts to zero-gravity environments, and the technological needs required for humans to conduct much longer space flights further from Earth.
Prior to becoming CEO of Aerodyne Industries, LLC, Allen spent 10 years at NASA, during which time he conducted three space flights, spending eight days on the space shuttle Atlantis and 32 days on the space shuttle Columbia over the course of two trips. In all, Allen logged 900 hours in space and also served as Director of the International Space Station in Washington, D.C. He has also held positions with United Space Alliance and executive positions within Honeywell's Space Programs and Requirements, International Military Aircraft Programs, Space Systems Sales and Marketing, and Engineering Services to NASA divisions.
The Patrick J. Cunningham Jr. and Susan Ward ’80 Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering was created to offer engineering students exposure to experts from various engineering fields and educational opportunities outside the classroom. The lecture series will feature two speakers per academic year (one each semester).