Zac Colovos is dressed in a blue flight suit with the third stage of the Saturn V in the background. SUBMITTED

Portland resident Zac Colovos spent his summer working at Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. It was a good fit for a young man who aspires to work with the United States Space Program.

He is a sophomore at Western Kentucky University (WKU) and was co-valedictorian for the 2020 class at Portland High School. He is studying mechanical engineering and mathematics at WKU.

NASA’s Space Camp is a program at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Attendees participate in STEM-oriented activities as they work together in their teams to complete training nearly identical to that of today’s astronauts. Students arrive on Sunday and have a full week that ends on Friday.

Colovos worked with older students as he guided them through various historical lessons and modern scenarios that emphasized problem-solving and critical thinking. He and around 100 other college-aged students were selected from several applicants to lead, teach, and excite the students who were attending each week.

While Colovos says it would be amazing to be an astronaut, and he wouldn’t turn it down, he doesn’t know how attainable it would be. He prefers to work as an engineer at first because it would offer better job security. He mainly added that he just wants to be involved in the space program in any way.

Colovos said, “My time at space camp is something I’m not going to forget anytime soon. Already being in love with space exploration, I knew I would enjoy myself, but never to this extent. On top of being able to learn even more about this industry, I was able to meet dozens of people who, like me, are excited about spaceflight.

“It is not every day that I get to exercise this passion of mine through technical space conversations or even educating future generations of engineers, scientists, and hopefully astronauts.”

Colovos was selected by his peers and the leadership at Space Camp to receive The Right Stuff Award during their two-week training period. This award is based on the 1979 book The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe where he describes how the ‘Mercury 7’ contained the “Right Stuff” to be astronauts. The award is symbolic of Colovos’s demonstration that he has what it takes to lead, inspire, and even be an astronaut.

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