WAKEFIELD — The skills students learn and develop through a vocational education can take them anywhere — even to outer space, according to a visiting speaker at Northeast Metro Tech today.
NASA Astronaut and Ret. Navy Capt. Scott Tingle, a Massachusetts native and alumnus of Blue Hills Regional Vocational Technical School in Canton, visited students on Tuesday, Nov. 26 and shared his journey from studying machine drafting as a high school student to being accepted to NASA’s 2009 Astronaut Class.
“We’re incredibly thankful that Capt. Tingle visited us today and shared the journey he took to succeed in his lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut with our students,” Principal Carla Scuzzarella said. “It’s incredibly inspiring for our students to hear from a Massachusetts native, who graduated from a vocational school not far away and achieved everything he set out to do by working hard and persevering.”
Principal Scuzzarella reached out to Tingle and NASA with the goal of scheduling the visit after hearing that he had recently visited Blue Hills Vocational Tech. Students and staff were also assigned to read “Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race” By Margot Lee Shetterly this summer, making his visit timely for the entire school community.
“It’s important for students to feel empowered to pursue their passions and interests, and to understand the many options available to them,” Superintendent David DiBarri said. “Hearing from Capt. Tingle was a wonderful opportunity for students to meet and hear from a living example of the valuable skills and potential a vocational education provides, and it was a really meaningful experience for our school community.”
During his presentation, Tingle showed a video with various clips of his time at the International Space Station during Expedition 54/55 from Dec. 17, 2017 to June 3, 2018, including video of him performing maintenance, lab work for various experiments and views of earth and space.
He also emphasized to students how his vocational education gave him a foundation that he used throughout his career as an astronaut, in particular the benefits of understanding how machines and systems work, and the procedures with which to fix a problem.
“Vocational training, I can tell you from experience, it’s invaluable,” Tingle said. “You get to work with tools, you get to work with people, you get to learn how systems work…There are a lot of people out there that don’t have those skills. You’re very lucky to have those skills…I remember sitting in the same position you are in, in your school, trying to get your reports done, getting up before the sun is up. It’s critical to get that foundation.”
Tingle also told students about NASA’s current plans with the Artemis program, showed students photos of various geographic locations on Earth from space and answered student questions. After his presentation, approximately 25 students and staff lined up to shake his hand, ask a question or take a photo.
“You never want to give up,” Tingle encouraged students. “You want to go to your grave knowing you tried as hard as you could.”