COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Golden Eagle linebacker, U.S. navy pilot and astronaut Capt. Barry Wilmore will accept an honorary doctorate at the second Tennessee Tech graduation ceremony on Saturday afternoon. Wilmore is one of two outstanding alumni who will receive the first honorary doctorates in TTU history.
Presiding over his final commencements at each respective ceremony, TTU President Robert Bell will present honorary doctorates to retired NASA astronaut and scientist Dr. Roger Crouch on Saturday morning, and to Capt. Wilmore on Saturday afternoon.
“Wilmore and Crouch are TTU graduates who have distinguished themselves among all mankind, and they have done it superbly,” said Bell. “I can’t think of any two individuals who are better suited to receive the first honorary doctorates from TTU.”
In addition to accepting his honorary doctorate during the afternoon ceremony, Wilmore will deliver the commencement address to the colleges of education and engineering.
Born in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Wilmore grew up in Mt. Juliet, Tenn. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at TTU, and also has a master’s degree in aviation systems from The University of Tennessee.
At Tennessee Tech, Wilmore was a walk-on member of the Golden Eagle football squad from 1982-85. He became one of the university’s first graduate-student athletes after redshirting with a knee injury as an undergrad. Once fully recovered, he took advantage of his remaining eligibility and established himself in TTU’s record books, reaping several post-season honors. He was voted Academic All-District and named to Leonard’s All-America team. He also won a scholar-athlete award from the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame, and was elected to TTU’s 2003 Sports Hall of Fame class.
Currently, he holds the No. 2 spot in Tech record books for most tackles in a game with 21 against Austin Peay in his final season. That year, he had 143 total tackles to earn the No. 3 spot on the list of tackles per season. For both his character on and off the field, Wilmore was named the 1985 Robert Hill Johnson award winner for “exemplify[ing] all that is fine and good in the great game of football.”
Wilmore is a graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School. He has accumulated more than 6,400 flight hours and completed 663 carrier landings, all in tactical jet aircrafts. He has completed four operational deployments, flying the A-7E and FA-18 aircraft from the decks of the USS Forrestal, USS Kennedy, USS Enterprise and USS Eisenhower aircraft carriers, including combat operations during Operation Desert Storm operating from the deck of the USS Kennedy.
Selected as a pilot by NASA in July 2000, Wilmore completed two years of training and evaluation before taking technical duty assignments. He represented the astronaut office on all propulsion systems issues, including the space shuttle main engines, solid rocket motor and external tank. He supported launch and landing operations at Kennedy Space Center.
In 2009, Wilmore piloted his first Atlantis flight to the International Space Station. He has logged more than 259 hours in space. When Atlantis took its final flight of the space shuttle program in July 2011, Wilmore talked the astronauts through launch and landing as the Ascent/Entry Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) in mission control.
Wilmore was recently assigned as commander of the International Space Station (ISS) for Expedition 42, which is currently scheduled for launch aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket in the fall of 2012. As commander of Expedition 42, Wilmore is scheduled to spend six months in space aboard ISS.
Crouch and Wilmore are among the nearly 73,400 alumni of Tennessee Tech. There are TTU alumni from every state in the U.S., along with 112 other countries and territories