Congressman Vargas and NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke Help STEM Achieve Liftoff with Imperial Valley Students

El Centro, California - Today Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51) hosted retired Colonel and renowned NASA Astronaut Edward Michael “Mike” Fincke at Southwest High School in El Centro.  Col. Fincke spoke with more than 1,000 middle school students and 800 high school students from the Imperial Valley about his spaceflight experiences as an astronaut and the importance of studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“I am thrilled that Colonel Fincke was able to come to the Imperial Valley and share his amazing experiences as a NASA astronaut with so many of our students,” said Congressman Vargas.  “Not only did he inspire our students to follow their dreams, but he also demonstrated how fun and rewarding it can be to study STEM.  It is vital that we continue to foster an interest in STEM in our future generations.”

Col. Fincke graduated from MIT in 1989 and Stanford University in 1990. Upon graduation he entered the United States Air Force where he was assigned as a Space Systems Engineer and a Space Test Engineer at Los Angeles Air Force Base.  Selected by NASA in April 1996, Col. Fincke reported to the Johnson Space Center where he completed two years of training and evaluation. Col. Fincke is currently in the Exploration Branch of the Astronaut Office where he supports NASA's Commercial Crew Program and serves as a space station Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM).  Col. Fincke has logged a total of 381 days in space, most recently on the final flight of space shuttle Endeavor in the summer of 2011.  He also has 48 hours and 37 minutes of extra-vehicular activity (EVA) time on nine spacewalks.

“I am very excited to visit Imperial County and El Centro.  Even though I could see Imperial Valley from the International Space Station, this is my first time visiting in person,” said Col. Mike Fincke.  “I can’t wait to share my space adventures with the students and show the great opportunities that open up when people study science, technology, engineering, and math.”

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