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Press Release

Cal Poly Welcomes NASA Astronaut and Alumnus Victor Glover for a Day of Learn by Doing

Contact: Matt Lazier

805-756-7109; [email protected] 

SAN LUIS OBISPO – Victor Glover, a NASA astronaut and 1999 Cal Poly engineering graduate, spent Wednesday, May 29, on Cal Poly’s campus visiting with students, giving feedback on Learn by Doing research projects and sharing about his experiences at Cal Poly and beyond.

“It’s always great to be here on campus,” Glover said. “Cal Poly has changed so much over the years and its really neat to see, but some things don’t change, like the focus on students.”

Glover met with students working on projects developing exercise regimens for astronauts, creating a model Mars rover and building an autonomous research plane. He also met with preschoolers in Cal Poly’s Preschool Learning Lab to answer questions and share about the life of an astronaut. Across the day, Glover emphasized the impact of his Cal Poly education and the importance of hands-on, interdisciplinary work Cal Poly students are engaged in.

NASA astronaut and Cal Poly Alumnus Victor Glover looks at an autonomous research plane with an 11-foot wingspan while interacting with four students who built the plane.
NASA astronaut and Cal Poly alumnus Victor Glover works with a group of Cal Poly Engineering students who created an Autonomous Research Plane, an 11-foot wingspan, remotely controlled aircraft.

“Interdisciplinary work is everything — it’s the way that real world problems are addressed,” Glover said. “I love seeing what the students are doing and hearing what Cal Poly does for them.

“Cal Poly students and graduates are changing the game — our space program and beyond benefits from their work.”

After graduating from Cal Poly, Glover served as a Navy fighter and test pilot. He is a member of the NASA astronaut class of 2013, piloted the first operational flight of the SpaceX Crew-1 dragon spacecraft Resilience and spent six months aboard the International Space Station in 2020-21 — becoming the first African American astronaut to live aboard the station. In 2023, Glover was announced as the pilot of the Artemis II mission, which is scheduled to fly around the Moon in fall 2025. 

Glover met with a group of students who are developing a new, compact, comprehensive, all-in-one anaerobic exercise solution for use in a microgravity environment to counteract the muscular atrophy commonly experienced by astronauts. Glover shared his personal experience of exercising on the International Space Station.

“The machines that we exercise with are, in my opinion, the coolest technology on the space station,” said Glover. “They are truly engineering and scientific accomplishments.”

Glover also met with a team of students constructing a model Mars rover for the Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge. In his feedback to the student groups, Glover shared experiences from his time on the International Space Station and his training to help the students with their projects, including considering the effects of radiation in space, the variant structures of dust and other particles and how they behave outside of Earth’s atmosphere and the nuances of working within different levels of gravity.

“Everything he shared with us was very helpful and it was great to hear from someone with such expertise,” said student Jake Brajevich from the microgravity exercise team. “What we’re working toward is what he’ll be experiencing on his mission.”

NASA astronaut and Cal Poly Alumnus Victor Glover speaks with two young children outside the Cal Poly Preschool Learning Laboratory.
Glover interacts with youngsters at Cal Poly's Preschool Learning Lab.

Glover also visited Cal Poly’s Preschool Learning Lab and answered questions about his daily life and activities aboard the International Space Station. Glover also quizzed the children on their space and astronomy knowledge.

Glover then spent time with students who are creating a remotely controlled autonomous research plane equipped with sensors for data collection. Glover offered thoughts on how the team could reduce the weight of the plane and heard from the students on how the craft had developed across their senior year.

“When I speak with and hear from our students, it’s like I’m in a room with NASA engineers,” Glover said. “They are doing real, in-depth engineering — and I hope and encourage them to keep doing what they are doing.”

Wednesday’s visit was a continuation of Glover’s commitment to Cal Poly. Since graduating, he has served on Cal Poly’s College of Engineering Advancement and Advisory Board and the Cal Poly Athletic Directors Council, in addition to his many visits to campus.

“Cal Poly alumni are making an incredible impact across the globe and across so many different fields,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “Victor Glover is a stellar example not only this impact but also of our alumni community’s willingness and passion to give back to Cal Poly and our students.”