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Widener Dean’s Connection to Space Shuttle

July 7, 2011

Widener School of Engineering Dean Fred Akl will be like millions nationwide who watch the landmark final flight of the space shuttle very closely.

But unlike most, Akl has a deep connection to NASA’s space shuttle program.  He worked as a faculty fellow and consultant for NASA over ten summers, sharing his expertise as a structural engineer specializing in vibration control.  A major project he aided was the testing and preparation for docking the space shuttles with the Mir, a Russian space station.  Akl was on site at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for testing flights and the successful mission in June 1995 when the Atlantis – the shuttle making the last flight – docked for the first time with the Mir.

“I was sitting in a giant conference room with many U.S. engineers,” he said.  “On the other side of the globe the Russian engineers were sitting in their control room with the translation going back and forth.  Sitting in that control room you could just feel the tense environment – everyone was hoping for the best but prepared to take care of any kind of unfortunate event that may occur.”

To read the complete story, click here to visit the Widener School of Engineering web page.  You also can watch the video below featuring Akl discussing his experience.

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One comment

  1. I believe all of us that worked on the Shuttle program for NASA are sad to see this program come to an end, but sitting there during this historic moment must have been something to witness.



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