Cal Poly’s Martian

By Sarah Thien

Victor Glover (General Engineering, ‘99) could be one of the first men on Mars. In addition to being a supremely talented astronaut, Glover recently got a very public endorsement from NASA at San Diego Comic-Con in July.

Comic-Con, a large annual celebration of all things pop culture, often hosts panel discussions for new movies, books and comics. Glover was at a panel for the new Matt Damon sci-fi movie “The Martian.” During the discussion, a NASA program manager on the panel told the crowd, “Get your photos with [Glover] now. This is going to be like having a Babe Ruth rookie card.”

While exciting, a trip to Mars is a long ways off. According to NASA’s current timetables, Glover, currently 39, would
be approximately 59 years old when he sets foot on the Red Planet. The dose of radiation that astronauts will be exposed to on the way to Mars could increase their chance for cancer later in life, so older astronauts may be preferred for this mission.

“Getting humans to the surface of Mars is going to be a challenge,” says Glover. “The fact that I am a part of that at all is hard to believe, and anything I can do to contribute is an honor.”

In the meantime Glover is happy to spend his time promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Shortly after his Comic-Con appearance, he visited campus to speak at Cal Poly’s Engineering Possibilities in College (EPIC) summer camp and visit with students.

“Working with students reminds me to work just a little harder to make sure that I am worthy of their time, but to also have fun so I don’t waste their time,” says Glover. “While it is important to encourage students to work hard, we also have to let them see us enjoying the challenges and opportunities of a STEM career so they will be encouraged to sustain their aspirations.”

Glover was among eight candidates selected as astronauts out of more than 6,000 — the largest number that NASA had ever received. He is an F/A-18 pilot and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. He also holds degrees from the Air Force’s Air University and the Naval Postgraduate School. Among many awards and decorations, he has served as a Navy Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Congress.

He is the fourth Cal Poly alumnus to serve as an astronaut. The others include retired U.S. Navy Captain Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson (Aerospace Engineering, ’69), a four-time commander on the space shuttle and an inductee in the National Aviation Hall of Fame; Gregory Chamitoff (Electrical Engineering, ’84); and retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Frederick “Rick” Sturckow (Mechanical Engineering, ’84).

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