LAUNCH PAD: Astronaut Mentors ISU Students

If you could start all over and do anything for a living, what would you do?

Would you be a professional athlete? How about the President of the United States? What about an astronaut?

It seems far-fetched, heck, even crazy.

Those who doubted retired astronaut Clayton Anderson would make it to the stars can only dream of seeing the world the way he has.

“Here I was, born and raised right down there, only 220 miles away but flying in the International Space Station over the town that raised me,” said Anderson.

Anderson, a crew member of STS 117 in 2007 and STS 131 in 2010 has logged 167 days in space.

His 38 hours and 28 minutes worth of space walks ranks in the top 30 of all time.

“For a small town kid from Nebraska who dreamed of being an astronaut to being number 28th in history of all astronauts and cosmonauts is pretty cool,” Anderson told Channel 13 News.

For a man as accomplished as Clayton, it would be easy to get a big head. That wouldn`t help him through the door at Howe Hall at Iowa State University.

Anderson helps teach a freshman aerospace engineering class at the very school he earned his master`s degree.

“The fact that Iowa State had a great program and offered me a teaching assistantship was a big deal for me,” said Anderson.

His lectures, always active and designed to get students out of their seats may not be the norm, but students like Josh Olvera say they prefer it that way.

“He makes me use my imagination more. Everything he does gets students involved,” said Olvera.

In Anderson, students see a mentor and a role model who can not only talk the talk, but has walked the walk.

In Clayton`s case, that walk was tethered to the International Space Station.

“He gives us the ability to learn from his best practices at NASA,” said Tor Finseth, a graduate student at Iowa State.

Those best practices leave students feeling inspired.

“It gives me hope that I can not only reach for the stars, but maybe make it to mars or land on the moon,” said Dillyn Mummy, a freshman at Iowa State.

Not bad for a guy whose just trying to give back to his Alma mater.

“I do hope to do more. I don`t want to just teach,” said Anderson.

In the near future, Anderson hopes to host a question and seminar with Iowa State students about becoming an astronaut.

He is also publishing a book about his work with NASA. It’s called “Takin’ Up Space” and it will be published by December of this year.

For more information about Clayton, you can visit his website at astroclay.com.

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