Astronauts stay fit in space thanks to San Jacinto College alum

12.18.2013 | By Andrea Vasquez

San Jacinto College alumnus, Craig Tyer, lead the team in the successful development of the passive Vibration Isolation System for the treadmill installed aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Photo credit: Andrea Vasquez, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.

Astronauts stay fit in space thanks to San Jacinto College alum

Andrea Vasquez -- December 19, 2013



HOUSTON – Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) can get their daily cardio workout thanks to Boeing Senior Technical Designer, Craig Tyer, and his design team. Tyer lead the team in the successful development of the passive Vibration Isolation System for the treadmill installed in the ISS. Many shoot for the stars, but Tyer quite literally saw his efforts make it into space - a beginning that started with an associate degree from San Jacinto College.

After graduating from J. Frank Dobie High School in 1984, Tyer enrolled full-time at San Jacinto College to take drafting design classes. In 1985, at just 19 years old, he entered the NASA contractor workforce with GE Government Services. Later, he began working full time while still taking classes and graduated with an associate degree in pre-engineering design drafting in 1987.

“I had great teachers that were willing to invest in me,” said Tyer. “Getting an associate degree allowed me to get my foot in the door which then allowed me to demonstrate my value through hard work.”

As the mechanical design lead, Tyer and his team were given the task to develop the isolation system for the treadmill being used on ISS today. According to NASA’s website, in microgravity, astronauts do not exert as much force on their muscles as on Earth; without exercise, these muscles begin to atrophy. This can lead to bone density loss with symptoms similar to osteoporosis. A treadmill in the ISS gives astronauts a way to exercise and to maintain muscle and bone health. Because exercise causes vibrations and micro-acceleration, the treadmill has stabilizing systems to minimize their transfer to the ISS structure and to keep the exercise surface relatively stable.

“I had the privilege of working with some of the best engineers in the country,” said Tyer. “Having the opportunity to be on a project like this from the initial conceptual phase, through the design, manufacturing, assembly, and finally overseeing the installation and operations on the ISS was truly amazing. It is very satisfying to see hardware that you have designed being used in space. I also had the privilege to meet and talk with the first astronaut to experience running on the treadmill.”

Tyer’s work ethic and willing attitude toward continuing education has afforded him many more opportunities to work on unique projects in the space industry. His most recent project has taken him to Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, working on the NASA Docking System. This year, Tyer received the NASA/Boeing Space Flight Awareness Award in recognition for design leadership on the ISS Docking Adapter (IDA) project; was named a Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Stellar Award Nominee for the successful IDA design reviews with RSC-Energia and NASA; and a Boeing Pride award for technical checking leadership.

With the intense national focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, Tyer believes it all starts with what your passion is. “It is important to focus and complete a higher education, but being passionate about what you enjoy doing is critical to your career success. A higher education is needed for opening doors in the STEM fields, but how far you can go is determined by how well you work and build relationships with others.”


About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

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