One of Buckhaven High’s brightest former pupils returned to his old stomping ground last week to meet pupils and inspire them for the future.
Andrew Abercromby, a NASA bio-medical engineer, grew up in Fife, and while at Buckhaven, aged just 17, he was given the chance to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Centre as part of a ‘Space School’ programme.
After just two life-changing weeks at NASA, Andrew knew what he wanted to do with his life and now considers his job as “one of the best going”.
After leaving the school in 1997, Andrew went on to study engineering before learning to fly at RAF Leuchars, and later gained a doctorate from the University of Houston.
His career has seen him design and test spacesuits and spacecraft; pilot a single-person submersible; perform solo dives beneath four meters of ice in a frozen lake in the mountains of Antarctica; and work in environments as varied as a reduced-gravity research aircraft, the Arizona desert, and lakes in the Canadian Rockies.
Andrew visited the school with NASA colleague astronaut Douglas Wheelock, who commanded the Space Station for three months in 2010.
Andrew said: “My own Space School experience when I was a pupil at Buckhaven High was a major event in my life and had a huge effect on my career ambitions, so I understand the ability of these events to have a positive impact on school children.
“As well as talking about some of my work with NASA I hope that I can help encourage these school children to set themselves ambitious career goals, whether in the space industry or in whatever other fields their interests eventually lead them.”
The visit was part of a series of events organised by the University of St Andrews as part of its summer Space School programme, which is now in its seventh year.
The programme aims to build strong links with the local community, as well as offering young people the opportunity to learn about the science of the stars from leading scientists, university students, and professional astronauts.