LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Texas Tech University announced a former astronaut will soon be Dean of the Whitacre College of Engineering.
Albert Sacco Jr. will take over starting January 1st. He replaces Pamela Eibeck who became President of the University of the Pacific. Sacco was one of 56 people to apply for the job.
Sacco was the space shuttle Columbia's payload specialist during a 1995 flight. Sacco is currently the George A. Snell Distinguished Professor of Engineering and the director of the Center for Advanced Microgravity Materials Processing at Northeastern University.
According to a news release from Texas Tech University, Sacco is a Massachusetts native and completed a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Northeastern University in Boston in 1973, and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. He then joined the faculty of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, becoming a full professor and serving as the chair of the chemical engineering department from 1989 until 1997, when he joined the faculty at Northeastern. He has consulted for numerous companies in the fields of catalysis, solid/gas contacting, zeolite synthesis and applications, and equipment design for space applications.
Sacco has more than 192 publications (including book chapters) in the areas of carbon filament initiation and growth, transition metal and acid catalyst and their deactivation, and zeolite synthesis, and he has been the principal investigator on more than $24 million in research grants.
Using his space flight experience, Sacco has given more than 300 presentations to approximately 27,000 K-12 teachers and their students as a means to motivate students to consider careers in science and engineering. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and in 2004 was elected to the International Academy of Astronautics. Most recently, he was named the recipient of the 2010 New England Institute of Chemists Distinguished Chemist Award.
Copyright 2010 KCBD. All rights reserved. Texas Tech University contributed to this report.