Blue Ridge Community College's 50th Anniversary Luncheon

Caption: "From One Small Step to One Giant Leap 1969 2019" astronaut character in graduation cap

50th Anniversary Luncheon

From One Small Step to One Giant Leap

Friday, November 15, 2019

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Blue Ridge Conference Hall

Henderson County Campus


Featuring Keynote Speaker Mike Massimino
Former NASA Astronaut, Recurring Character on The Big Bang Theory, Columbia University Professor, and Best-Selling Author



2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Blue Ridge Community College, which was originally founded as Henderson County Technical Institute. Coincidentally, Blue Ridge’s historic launch occurred the day after Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.

Most Americans who were alive on July 20, 1969 remember watching Armstrong take his first step on the moon, famously saying, “That’s one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.” For Former NASA Astronaut Mike Massimino, his childhood space dreams were born that day.

During Blue Ridge Community College’s 50th Anniversary Luncheon, “From One Small Step to One Giant Leap,” Massimino will discuss innovation, problem solving, and rising to unforeseen challenges. You will hear about his second spaceflight to the Hubble Space Telescope and the most complicated spacewalk ever attempted where he, fellow astronauts, and the ground control team came up with an innovative solution to a major miscue that saved the mission.

Massimino’s talk will take you on an inspirational journey where seemingly unreachable dreams are achieved and obstacles are overcome. This journey shares similar themes to Blue Ridge Community College’s journey in supporting students and the community for 50 years. Through creative thinking, hard work, perseverance, and campus and industry support, Blue Ridge helps students to overcome obstacles and pursue their future, today.



The 50th Anniversary Luncheon has been made possible by generous contributions from these sponsors:

Gold Sponsors

Pardee UNC Health Care logo

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

About Mike Massimino

Mike Massimino smiling portrait in NASA uniform

Mike Massimino

Former NASA Astronaut, Recurring Character on The Big Bang Theory, Columbia University Professor, and Best-Selling Author

Mike Massimino is a former astronaut, the first person to tweet from space, a recurring character on The Big Bang Theory, a professor at Columbia University, and a New York Times best-selling author. His highly engaging talks take audiences on a brilliant journey where seemingly unreachable childhood dreams are achieved, obstacles are overcome, and the world of science intersects with what is perhaps humankind’s most thrilling adventure. Along the way, this “down-to-earth spaceman,” known for his sense of humor, provides a unique and highly motivating perspective on teamwork, innovation, leadership, and achieving the impossible.

Massimino’s childhood space dreams were born the day Neil Armstong set foot on the moon. A working class kid from Long Island, he made it to Columbia and then MIT, only to flunk his doctoral exam and be rejected three times by NASA for poor eyesight. Driven by determination and commitment, Massimino simply “trained” his eyes to be better. After working as an engineer at IBM, NASA, and McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, along with academic appointments at both Rice University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, he was finally selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1996. Massimino is the veteran of two space flights and the fourth and fifth Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions in 2002 and 2009. During the 2009 mission, he became the first person to tweet from space. Massimino also holds a team record for the number of hours spacewalking in a single space shuttle mission. He shared his interstellar adventures in his critically praised New York Times best-selling book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe.

Fans of The Big Bang Theory will recognize Massimino for his six-time recurring role as himself on the CBS hit comedy. He has also hosted Science Channel’s The Planets and its special Great American Eclipse. Massimino is featured in the National Geographic Channel’s series One Strange Rock and is the host for Science Channel’s series The Planets and Beyond. He is a frequent guest on television news and talk show programs, including NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and Fox News. Massimino has also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

He is currently a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University and the senior advisor for space programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Massimino received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and technology and policy, as well as a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Twitter blue bird logo  Follow @AstroMike


back to top ▲



Caption: "1969 2019" Blue Ridge Community College brand mark 50 year Anniversary logo