NEW FACULTY: ISU Welcomes Retired Astronaut

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Students in Iowa State Universities Aerospace Engineering Department just learned they’re getting a new instructor.

Retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson has accepted a job with the university.

The news around campus spread pretty quickly.

“My first reaction was I was really excited and looking forward to it,” says Freshman student Betsy Losen.

Freshman Miriam Wilson agreed saying, “It’s a great opportunity to hear from someone who`s had great opportunities in their life.”

Retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson will join the faculty at ISU in the Aerospace Engineering Department.

“The opportunity to get someone who is that good to come on board and work with us is unparalleled,” says Professor and Aerospace and Engineering Chair Rich Wlezien.

Wlezien says Anderson will be teaching for three weeks this semester, working one on one with freshman.

“It`s really exciting because the class introduces our students to Aerospace Engineering, what better way to learn about being in space than to hear it from someone who`s been there,” says Wlezien.

Anderson earned his master’s degree from ISU and has logged 167 days in space including 38 hours of spacewalks.

He said by phone he is excited to get back in the classroom.

“This is a more formal process, it allows them to tap into different resources which makes it a little bit easier on them.  I still get the opportunity to work with young kids and in part some of the experiences I`ve had which is the most fun for me,” says Anderson.

Professor Wlezien says five years ago 50 percent of Aerospace Engineering students were switching majors after their first semester, now that number has dropped to less than 10 percent.

Adding Anderson to the mix will only help.

“There is always a danger in scaring the students away by teaching them too much of the fundamentals and not enough about what you actually do as an engineer, so to get someone like Clay here is just thrilling,” says Wlezien.

And students agree.

“I can`t wait to be able to hear from him and hear his experiences,” says Freshman Tanner Lyon.

Anderson is looking forward to the opportunity.

“I’m hopeful we can have great interaction in the classroom get kids excited to be inspired to do great things,” says Anderson.

Anderson will start teaching classes at ISU in October.