Texas Tech Student, NASA Astronaut Greets Teachers

Astronaut Joe Acaba is a distance learning graduate student in the College of Education.

Astronaut Joe Acaba

Astronaut Joe Acaba is a distance learning graduate student at Texas Tech.

NASA Astronaut Joe Acaba, who currently is a distance learning graduate student at Texas Tech University, spoke with area middle school math and science teachers today (June 24) at the Fourth Annual (MS)2 Conference at the International Cultural Center.

Acaba, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and taught five years of high school and middle school math and science, was selected as a mission specialist by NASA in 2004 along with several other teachers.

He currently is a distance learning student in the College of Education at Texas Tech University, and his talk today involved engaging with teachers and providing them with topics and resources for the classroom.

“I always stress the importance of math and science,” Acaba said. “Even though we don’t necessarily use math in our daily lives as astronauts, we totally rely on the tools built by the NASA engineers. It has to be foolproof.”

In February 2006, Acaba completed astronaut candidate training that included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training.

Upon completion, Acaba was assigned to the Hardware Integration Team in the Space Station Branch, working technical issues with the European Space Agency hardware. He was also a member of the Space Shuttle Branch, supporting shuttle launch and landing preparations at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Acaba was on the STS-119 Discovery in March 2009, which was the 125th shuttle flight. The primary objective of the flight was to deliver the final pair of power-generating solar array wings and truss element to the International Space Station.

Astronaut Joe Acaba

Acaba spoke with area middle school math and science teachers at the International Cultural Center.

In May 2012, Acaba embarked on Expedition 31/32 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which lasted until September 2012. During the course of this visit to the International Space Station, he participated in numerous scientific research experiments and performed regular maintenance and operational tasks aboard the orbiting complex.

Although Acaba has visited the Texas Tech campus before, this is his first visit in a professional setting.

“The campus is just beautiful; I’m so impressed with the faculty and students here,” Acaba said. “We work with many engineers that are Texas Tech alumni, and they just love this place.”

NASA encourages their astronauts to make speaking appointments often, and Acaba said he chooses the educational opportunities so he can share his background as an educator and the challenge of becoming an astronaut.

College of Education

The College of Education at Texas Tech University offers a full range of programs, including 9 doctoral degrees, 10 master's degrees, two bachelor's degrees and numerous specializations which can lead to careers in public or private education as teachers, professors, administrators, counselors and diagnosticians.

Programs in the college are housed in three departments.

The Department of Curriculum & Instruction offers advanced degrees that prepare leaders, researchers, and professors with the knowledge, skills, and practical application experience needed to analyze, construct, and evaluate curricula in ways that create optimal learning conditions for all learners. Language and literacy, bilingual education and STEM education are just a few of the specializations offered by C&I.

The Department of Educational Psychology & Leadership consists of a diverse group of academic programs that equip students with a comprehensive knowledge of learning, motivation, development, and educational foundations. The disciplines of counseling and school psychology are housed within the EP&L department as are programs to prepare future college administrators, primary and secondary school and district leaders, as well as practical and academic educational psychologists.

The Department of Teacher Education focuses solely on teacher preparation, ensuring that teacher candidates are ready for the classroom on day one. The Teacher Education Department is home to TechTeach, an innovative teacher preparation program that puts teacher candidates into public school classrooms for a full year and requires that students pass teacher certification tests prior to entering the classroom. Various paths to teaching careers, including fast-track distance programs statewide and alternative certification options, are also housed in this department.



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