Pictured above – Tennessee Tech alumnus and trustee Barry “Butch” Wilmore appears in Tech’s signature purple and gold colors to speak with local students in a video chat from the International Space Station on June 11, 2024. A Tennessee Tech athletics decal is seen at left.

Wilmore encouraged students who wish to pursue future careers with NASA to “study, study, study”

Tennessee Tech University hosted a video chat yesterday with a notable alumnus that was out of this world – literally.

Two-time Tech graduate, trustee and NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore appeared live from the International Space Station for a question-and-answer session with children of Tech faculty and staff.

Wilmore is part of the historic two-person crew for the Boeing Starliner’s maiden manned voyage. The spacecraft launched June 5 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and is currently slated to return to Earth June 18. 

Wearing Tech’s signature purple and gold colors and proudly displaying a Tennessee flag and Tech athletics decal, Wilmore kicked off the event by joking that he had declared it “Tennessee Tech Day” at the International Space Station. He went on to answer a broad range of questions ranging from “Where does space begin?” to “What does space food taste like?” and “How do you sleep in space?”

During the event, Wilmore also introduced fellow astronauts Jeanette Epps and Suni Williams, who donned Tech baseball and football jerseys to show their support for Wilmore’s alma mater.

Wilmore encouraged students who wish to pursue future careers with NASA to “study, study, study.”

“If you’re interested in space and want to work for NASA, then STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – is the route you have to take,” Wilmore explained in response to a student’s question. “Study hard. Math and sciences, it will get you to that place if that’s what you desire to do.”

Tech President Phil Oldham provided brief opening and closing remarks for the event, telling the Tech alumnus and trustee, “We are proud of you and can’t wait to see you in person when you come back to Earth.”

Wilmore holds two degrees and an honorary doctorate from Tech. The Mt. Juliet native is a member of the university’s Sports Hall of Fame and the recipient of Tech’s 2010 Outstanding Alumni Award for the College of Engineering. His term on the university’s board of trustees extends from 2017 to 2026.

Watch video of Wilmore’s Q&A with the children of Tech faculty and staff courtesy of NASA TV here.

Photo: Screengrab of live event via NASA TV.

Copyright 2024 The Upper Cumberland Business Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Other stories you may want to check out:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.