UConn engineering alumnus and Connecticut native Richard Mastracchio (Electrical Engineering/Computer Science ’82) will fly aboard the space shuttle Discovery in March 2010 on his third shuttle mission. Discovery will ferry a payload destined for the International Space Station, as well as a commemorative pennant designed by UConn engineering students. Upon its safe return to terra firma, the well-traveled pennant will be displayed in a glass case for all to see.
The choice of a pennant design will be voted on by students, according to Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education & Diversity Marty Wood, who announced the kickoff of a contest to come up with alternate designs. “We’re very excited by the opportunity to have students design a pennant and have a piece of UConn engineering accompany Rick on his journey,” said Mr. Wood.
The contest will begin immediately and follow the schedule and terms below:
Size and design specs:
2′ x 3′ overall. Designs should represent UConn Engineering in the theme or text and adhere to the values of the University and School of Engineering.
All engineering students may participate; team collaborations are encouraged.
A native of Waterbury, Mr. Mastracchio worked at Hamilton Standard (now Hamilton Sundstrand) for a number of years before transferring to Houston in 1987 to work for the Rockwell Shuttle Operations Company at the Johnson Space Center. He joined NASA a few years later as an engineer in the Flight Crew Operations Directorate, where his duties included the development of space shuttle flight software requirements, the verification of space shuttle flight software in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, and the development of ascent and abort crew procedures.
From 1993-96, he worked as an ascent/entry Guidance and Procedures Officer (GPO) in Mission Control, where he was involved in onboard guidance, navigation, and targeting. During that time, he supported 17 missions as a flight controller. His career as an astronaut began in 1996, and he flew two previous shuttle missions, as a mission specialist on STS-106 (Atlantis, 2000) and STS-118 (Endeavour 2007). Mr. Mastracchio has logged over 588 hours in space, including three space walks. He was inducted into the University of Connecticut’s Academy of Distinguished Engineers in 2003.
Shuttle Discovery has made more than 30 successful missions to date.