Poly Welcomes NASA Astronaut and Alumnus 

Written by Estero Bay News

June 6, 2024

Glover talks with Cal Poly engineering student group working on a design for a Mars Rover for the Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge. Photo by Joe Johnston/Cal Poly

Victor Glover, a NASA astronaut and 1999 Cal Poly engineering graduate, spent a day last week on Cal Poly’s campus visiting with students, giving feedback on Learn by Doing research projects and sharing about his experiences at Cal Poly and beyond. 

“It’s always great to be here on campus,” Glover said. “Cal Poly has changed so much over the years and its really neat to see, but some things don’t change, like the focus on students.” 

Glover met with students working on projects developing exercise regimens for astronauts, creating a model Mars rover and building an autonomous research plane. He also met with preschoolers in Cal Poly’s Preschool Learning Lab to answer questions and share about the life of an astronaut.  

After graduating from Cal Poly, Glover served as a Navy fighter and test pilot. He is a member of the NASA astronaut class of 2013, piloted the first operational flight of the SpaceX Crew-1 dragon spacecraft Resilience and spent six months aboard the International Space Station in 2020-21 — becoming the first African American astronaut to live aboard the station. In 2023, Glover was announced as the pilot of the Artemis II mission, which is scheduled to fly around the Moon in fall 2025.  

Glover met with a group of students who are developing a new, compact, comprehensive, all-in-one anaerobic exercise solution for use in a microgravity environment to counteract the muscular atrophy commonly experienced by astronauts. Glover shared his personal experience of exercising on the International Space Station. 

“The machines that we exercise with are, in my opinion, the coolest technology on the space station,” said Glover. “They are truly engineering and scientific accomplishments.” 

NASA astronaut and Cal Poly alumnus Victor Glover works with a group of Cal Poly Engineering students who created an Autonomous Research Plane, an 11-foot wingspan, remotely controlled aircraft. Photo by Joe Johnston/University Photographer/Cal Poly 5-29-24

Glover also met with a team of students constructing a model Mars rover for the Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge. In his feedback to the student groups, Glover shared experiences from his time on the International Space Station and his training to help the students with their projects, including considering the effects of radiation in space, the variant structures of dust and other particles and how they behave outside of Earth’s atmosphere and the nuances of working within different levels of gravity. 

“Everything he shared with us was very helpful and it was great to hear from someone with such expertise,” said student Jake Brajevich from the microgravity exercise team. “What we’re working toward is what he’ll be experiencing on his mission.” 

Glover then spent time with students who are creating a remotely controlled autonomous research plane equipped with sensors for data collection. Glover offered thoughts on how the team could reduce the weight of the plane and heard from the students on how the craft had developed across their senior year. 

“When I speak with and hear from our students, it’s like I’m in a room with NASA engineers,” Glover said. “They are doing real, in-depth engineering — and I hope and encourage them to keep doing what they are doing.”

 

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