Students and staff at Roxbury High School received a special visit from former NASA astronaut, Dr. Garrett Reisman, a Morristown native. He stopped by the school after hours on December 2nd for a question and answer session about his career and experiences with members of the Roxbotix Team.
Word got out, though, and more people showed up than expected according to Lee Hayden, the team advisor.
“I had planned to have this in the robotics classroom, but there was such as large turnout that I moved everyone to the media center. Altogether, there were around 50 students and ten faculty members. It was great that we didn’t have to limit such as an opportunity to robotics team members. It was very much appreciated.”
This visit was made possible due to a connection with a Roxbotix Booster Club parent and past club president who worked at Picatinny Arsenal with Reisman’s father in the 1980s while Dr. Reisman was still a student at Parsippany High School.
“Reisman was in town from California for a retirement party for his father and the booster club parent knew this and asked him for an hour of his time to speak to us,” explained Hayden.
Reisman spent the first half hour describing in detail what it was like to be a NASA astronaut on two space shuttle missions, spend three months on the International Space Station (ISS), and spend 15 hours carrying out spacewalks outside of the ISS.
His job on the ISS was to assist in its assembly, including its physical components and computer systems. Reisman’s Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Cal Tech prepared him to become an astronaut when he was in his late 20s.
Reisman is currently the director of crew operations at SpaceX, working for Elon Musk to fulfill Mr. Musk’s dream of sending humans to live on Mars.
The second half of his time was spent fielding questions from students.
“While he was speaking and answering questions, we were all on the edges of our seats listening to one fascinating thing after another. Everyone was transfixed by the presentation, and he graciously posed with students and staff for photos afterward,” shared Hayden.
All present were able to take away so much from this visit, not just the realization that a student from a public high school in Morris County similar to ours was able to go on to such a fantastic STEM career.
“Dr. Reisman even told us that he remembers participating in wrestling matches at RHS, so it was easy for our students to picture themselves going on to great things.”
Although an amazing career so far, it wasn’t always easy.
Dr. Reisman shared his story of perseverance when he was told by several astronauts that his short stature would prevent him from getting to do any space walks.
Hayden conveyed that, “He found a way to use his height to his advantage and was able to fit into tight spaces that most of the taller astronauts couldn’t. This made him a good choice for space walks that involved assembly of the ISS.”
Hayden printed off the official NASA portrait of Reisman in preparation of this visit, and along with his autograph, Reisman signed what summed it all up the best for the students, which was, “Remember, the sky is NOT the limit!”