Alumni come back to talk about their work at NASA on the Space Launch System

TTU alumni from NASA visit campus
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Thanks to our awesome alumni who came home to TTU’s Oakley STEM Center in February to talk about their work at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on the Space Launch System.

Electrical engineering grad Don Krupp, '88, and mechanical engineering grads John Rector, '91, and Mallory Johnston, '10, talked to hundreds of students at 13 middle and high schools through a distance connection from the STEM Center, and Krupp went to Mt. Juliet High School to talk with about 70 students about their current STEM projects, including a catapult designed on a 3D printer and paper cars.

Former astronaut Roger Crouch, physics '62, joined via video chat to talk to the Mt. Juliet students as well.

TTU students were treated to a discussion panel with Rector and Johnston at the STEM Center, where an interactive SLS exhibit offered more information about NASA’s next rocket system.

TTU President Phil Oldham joined Marshall representatives for a visit to Flexial Corporation in Cookeville, where they are building a seal that prevents hydrogen leakage in the SLS J-2X engine. About a quarter of Flexial’s staff are graduates of Tennessee Tech.

Representatives of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing were also on campus to talk about their role in SLS. Mechancial engineering alumnus Dane Richardson, '85, is senior manager of avionics and software in the Ares IUA program at Boeing. He took part in the panel discussions with students as well.

Read more about the week's activities and how NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center partnered with the Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University to introduce area students and the community to the Space Launch System, or SLS.

TTU alum Mark Edwards named 2013 National Superintendent of the Year

Mark A. Edwards
Mark A. Edwards

The American Association of School Administrators has named Mark A. Edwards, MA administration and supervision, '79, the 2013 National Superintendent of the Year.

Superintendent of Mooresville, N.C., Graded School District since 2007, Edwards has led the district to rank third in the state for the 4-year cohort graduation rate, with 90 percent of seniors graduating. The college-going rate has increased from 74 to 88 percent.

Edwards earned his bachelor’s degree at The University of Tennessee and has a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University.

Teresa Vanhooser named deputy director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Teresa Vanhooser
Teresa Vanhooser
(photo: NASA)

Teresa Vanhooser, industrial engineering '80, has been appointed deputy director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

She will assist Marshall Center Director Patrick Scheuermann in managing one of NASA's largest field installations, with nearly 6,000 on- and near-site civil service and contractor employees -- including those at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans -- and an annual budget of approximately $2.5 billion. Vanhooser will help oversee a broad range of propulsion, scientific and space transportation activities contributing to the nation's space program.

A native of Johnson City, Tenn., Vanhooser began her NASA career at Marshall in 1980 as an engineer in the Ground Systems Analysis Branch, leading work to integrate and test payloads for the Spacelab carrier, used to conduct science experiments in the space shuttle's payload bay. (NASA/MSFC)

Vanhooser has received numerous NASA awards. In 2007, she was presented the Engineer of Distinction Award -- the highest award offered to alumni from the College of Engineering at Tennessee Tech.

TTU alumnus publishes first novel after long career as an educator

Joe Rector and book, "Baseball Boys"
Joe Rector and his book
"Baseball Boys"

Joe Rector, secondary education '74, has published his first novel titled Baseball Boys.

The book follows the uneasy friendship of two teens who are both gifted athletes. After separating as they attend different universities, the characters are reunited in Chicago, where Martin Simmons plays professional baseball in the Cubs organization and Ike Stearn covers the team for a newspaper. The book is available at and in e-reader format.

After 30 years of teaching high school English and retiring in 2008 at the age of 56, Rector decided the time had come to do his own writing. He has written for several newspapers and magazines, and his work has also appeared in eight Chicken Soup books as well as two Knoxville Writers' Guild anthologies.

Rector has a couple of new books that will be out soon. One is a mystery/crime story, and the other is a memoir about the journey he and his son endured during his son's years of playing baseball. Also in the works is a juvenile literature book about a boy who struggles with harsh life and cruel individuals in middle school.

You can follow his blog at

TTU alumnus designs world's largest rail car

World's largest rail car 

Bryan Nutt, mechanical engineering '85, has designed the world’s largest rail car.

Built by Kasgro Rail, the 36-axle Schnabel car is 231 feet long and sits 18 feet off the ground. Once it's moving, the car will require a special train and a six-person crew to operate it.

Nutt is an engineer at TNC Rail Engineering in Spartanburg, S.C.

» Read more and view video.

TTU alumni named two of Emory University's 175 History Makers for their humanitarian work

R. Calvin and Neila Kimbrough, TTU alumni and Emory University Top 175 History Makers
Calvin and Nelia Kimbrough
(photo: Emory University)

R. Calivin Kimbrough Jr. and his wife, Nelia Tripp Kimbrough, both with history ('69) and masters ('71) degrees from Tennessee Tech, were named two of Emory University's 175 History Makers for their life-long dedication to those in need.

After completing degrees at Tennessee Tech, the couple continued their education at Emory University where Nelia later became assistant dean for Student Academic Services and Calvin, director of the Media Center at Emory's Candler School of Theology.

In 1977, the Kimbroughs, along with two other couples, began Patchwork Central, an inner-city neighborhood in Evansville, Ind. The Kimbroughs remained at Patchwork Central for 27 years, directing its community outreach programs and living, working, and worshipping in the neighborhood.

In 2004, Calvin and Nelia left Patchwork Central to work at the Open Door Community in Atlanta, a residential community that serves meals, staffs a free medical clinic, conducts worship services and meetings and provides a prison ministry.

The couple are strong supporters of Tennessee Tech and have attended many events in recent years.

Nelia says, "We are ever thankful for the education we received at Tennessee Tech."

TTU alumnus and Asian art expert identified and appraised high-value find


Lark Mason, Tennessee Tech MBA alumnus '78, and "Antiques Roadshow" Asian art expert, identified and appraised a rare find while filming an episode of the show in July 2011.

ABC World News reported, "PBS's 'Antiques Roadshow' recorded the highest-value appraisal in the series' 16 years of production. Veteran Asian arts expert Lark Mason identified a collection of five late 17th century Chinese, carved rhinoceros horn cups and valued the set at $1 million to $1.5 million, July 25, 2011, in Tulsa, Okla. (WGBH)"

» Read more and view video.

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