Science & Technology

Nerd Nite meets NASA, sparking memories for an astronaut with deep Northwest roots

The Excessive Dive is understood for drawing crowds into the native music scene, however this week, music wasn’t what drew almost 200 folks to the venue – it was NASA.

Nerd Nite Seattle is a month-to-month gathering on the bar within the metropolis’s Fremont neighborhood, that includes beer, tasty Mexican meals, science talks and, after all, nerdy Seattleites. Tuesday evening’s occasion drew in loads of the regulars, plus an assortment of first-timers.

One of many first-timers was NASA astronaut Anne McClain. She mingled with the gang, after which acquired on stage to talk about her rigorous astronaut coaching, share hilarious tales about different members of her astronaut class, and mirror on how rising up in Washington state made her wish to go to house.

“I made a decision once I was about 3 years outdated, the primary time I instructed my mother I wished to be an astronaut,” stated McClain, who’s now 37. “Fortunately she is a little bit of a nerd herself, and so she actually fostered that.”

Younger McClain and her household (who got here out to help her at Nerd Nite) have been frequent guests to the Pacific Science Middle. In addition they went to the House Needle, the place McClain performed pretend-astronaut.

“I keep in mind driving the House Needle and going up within the elevator and being scared, however considering, ‘That is going to be like going up a launch tower,’ and so I’d sit there and attempt to face that worry,” she stated.


McClain adopted up on her childhood dream by attending West Level and turning into an Military main, helicopter pilot and flight teacher. In 2013, she received a spot in NASA’s most up-to-date class of astronaut candidates.

She’s nonetheless ready for her first spaceflight project, however within the meantime, she’s taking part in a task within the improvement and testing of future spaceships.

This week could have marked the primary time the denizens of Nerd Nite Seattle hosted an astronaut, nevertheless it wasn’t the primary time they’ve gathered to speak about house. Nerd Nite volunteer Jenny Haaland stated they’ve hosted talks about planets and different house matters earlier than. One Star Wars evening specifically acquired very intense.

Nerd Nite’s quirkiness is a giant a part of its enchantment. Haaland stated she loves discovering out what persons are obsessed with, and taking within the evening’s nerdy environment.

“Bars are typically very insular, and Nerd Nite simply isn’t,” she stated. “Individuals are keen to show to 1 one other and say, ‘Nicely, what did you concentrate on that?’ and discuss what we simply heard.”

Nerd Nite does herald some households – however a big pool of attendees are of their early careers, sometimes working at tech corporations reminiscent of Amazon and Boeing. Amazon software program improvement engineer Michael Li stated he enjoys coming as a result of it’s a refreshing break after a protracted day’s work.

McClain’s Seattle go to was a part of a NASA tour program referred to as Vacation spot Station, which sends astronauts, researchers and outreach specialists to cities throughout the nation. The Vacation spot Station workforce additionally checks in with native corporations to unfold the phrase about industrial alternatives in house.

Throughout this week’s stopover, the workforce visited Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket enterprise, Microsoft and Starbucks. Among the many matters that got here up at Starbucks have been the challenges of managing product shelf life and brewing espresso in zero-G, stated Pete Hasbrook, an affiliate program scientist for the Worldwide House Station program.

Tuesday’s Nerd Nite ended with an inspiring video in regards to the house station and its crew, plus a spherical of viewers questions that sparked a dialog about management in house.

Inspiring the nerd crowd could not have been the one factor on McClain’s schedule, however being on the Excessive Dive and reconnecting with her childhood memories have been positively among the many highlights.

“I nonetheless really feel inside like a little bit child from Spokane with a dream,” she stated. “My coronary heart would race once I went to Pacific Science Middle as a result of I’d faux to be an astronaut, and now I get to return again and provides again to the group that I feel compelled me to the place I’m.”

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