Tim Masters couldn’t even read yet when he started daydreaming about the astronaut life and he still remembers when his elementary school hosted Jerry Linenger, Eastpointe native and veteran of two space shuttle missions. But the Macomb electric vehicle development student never thought he’d get as close to NASA as he did last month.
Masters was one of 300 community college students across the country accepted into the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program. After a five-week, interactive online course of study that covered NASA and the international space station, he and his fellow scholars spent four days in October at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. Although Masters didn’t get a chance to meet another astronaut, he did interact with NASA engineers, toured the facilities and worked on a team building a robotic land rover.
“We discovered a new appreciation for just how important testing is to design,” says Masters. “Nothing ever works right the first time.”
Before Michigan Works! brought him to Macomb, Masters installed restaurant equipment and worked sixty-hour weeks. After earning a certificate in electric vehicle development technology from Macomb, he’s now a high-voltage battery pack test technician with Aerotek, on assignment at Ford’s Fuel Cell Center in Dearborn.
“I can’t hold the program in any higher regard. It was life-changing,” says Masters, who is pursuing his associate degree. “I almost certainly would be still working miserable jobs and I wouldn’t have gotten such enthusiastic instruction, which really stoked my interest in electronics.”
Masters’ interest in space travel was stoked by the Space Shuttle Operator’s Manual. He started looking at the photographs when he was 5, progressing on to the instructions after his parents replaced his dog-eared copy with a new one. At Marshall, Masters was at the site where all of the shuttles’ propulsion systems were designed, developed and tested, before making their way to Cape Canaveral.
“The experience was amazing, awesome,” says Masters, backrow, second from the left in the photo. “And what I’ve learned about electric vehicle design and operation really came in handy.”