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Program manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
For scientists, it doesn’t get more cutting-edge than NASA. And Fred Patt ’77 has been at the forefront of NASA research for more than 32 years, working at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., as a program manager for Science Applications International Corporation.
For his latest project, Patt manages a 25-person contract to support NASA’s Ocean Biogeochemistry program, also known as Ocean Color. His team collects, processes, and distributes remote sensing measurements of the ocean made by unmanned scientific satellites. Soon, they will generate sea surface salinity products using data from a satellite launched in June.
“Nearly every one of these projects has achieved groundbreaking research that has quite literally advanced mankind’s scientific knowledge. One of them, the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), was recognized with a Nobel Prize for two of the principal investigators,” he says. “I’ve seen actual scientific instruments built and tested here that we ultimately used to collect and process data, watched with anticipation as our satellites have been launched, and looked over the shoulder of a satellite operations controller as he powered on one of our instruments for the first time after launch.”
As a physics major, Patt learned he has what it takes to tackle complex assignments. He completed Honors Program research under the guidance of the late Jack Ridge, emeritus professor of physics.
“He was very energetic and worked hard to challenge and motivate all his students,” recalls Patt. “He was undoubtedly the greatest inspiration of my undergraduate experience. I truly felt that I was part of an elite academic group at Moravian by completing an Honors thesis. I learned the value of challenging myself to go above and beyond the basic degree requirements, and that I’m capable of sustained, focused effort to bring an activity to a successful conclusion. I’ve applied these lessons numerous times over my career.”
"I truly felt that I was part of an elite academic group at Moravian by completing an honors thesis. I learned the value of challenging myself to go above and beyond the basic degree requirements."