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NASA Physicist Recognized on National TV for Community Outreach

For nearly 30 years, Huntsville, Alabama, native Trent Griffin has gone out of his way to make his hometown a better place as part of multiple community service groups, but also by spreading his love for STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) to as many students as he can.

On Sept. 17, the physicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville was recognized for his tireless efforts on the ABC network television program Good Morning America as part of their “Above and Beyond” campaign.

Trent Griffin, right, is congratulated by Marshall Space Flight Center Director Patrick Scheuermann.
Trent Griffin, right, is congratulated for his work in the community and his outreach efforts to encourage students to enter the science, technology, engineering and math fields by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center Director Patrick Scheuermann. Griffin was featured as a hometown hero on the ABC television program Good Morning America at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in his home town of Huntsville, Alabama.
NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given

Griffin was interviewed at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville — the official visitor center for Marshall and home to Space Camp. He talked about his life in the Rocket City. He received a special call from NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, the current commander of the International Space Station, who thanked Griffin for his service to the community and for his work supporting the station. Griffin is currently on a team building a facility that will enable even more valuable research on the station.

“I am completely overwhelmed,” said Griffin. “It is wonderful that all these people — family, friends, co-workers and some of the kids I’ve helped — would all come support what I try to do for our community. I hope we can all come together and go forward as part of the village helping kids find their direction.”

Griffin is the most requested speaker through Marshall’s Speakers Bureau for a program he created called Simple Science, aimed at creating interest in STEM education with young students by performing and relating science experiments with items found in every home. He has spoken at dozens of events and reached thousands of people across the Southeast at schools, science fairs, Boys and Girls Clubs, 4-H Programs, and YMCA Youth Programs, working with young people from preschoolers to graduate students.

“Trent injects a personal warmth and zest into every role, even into jobs that might seem mundane,” said Mark Krome, Griffin’s supervisor in Marshall’s Space Systems Department. “He encourages those around him and is a mentor to co-workers and future engineers and scientists. He makes our job even more fun.”

Griffin has lived in Huntsville his entire life, visiting Marshall as a child and becoming fascinated with space exploration and astronauts. He earned a degree in physics from Alabama A&M University in Huntsville and found himself working on the Space Shuttle Program at Marshall. Over the course of his career, he has supported many NASA programs and projects including the space shuttle, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and numerous investigations and support systems on the International Space Station.

“Safety is one of Trent’s specialties,” Krome said. “He is reliable and detail-oriented. He not only helps keep space station crews safe, but also is safety supervisor for 19 buildings here at Marshall that include high-tech laboratories.”

Griffin works in the Engineering Directorate’s Space Systems Department, which designs, develops, assembles, integrates, tests and delivers prototype, development, and flight products for human spaceflight programs, science investigations, and exploration initiatives. He is currently working on the development of a second microgravity science glovebox — a sealed and enclosed work area accessible to the crew through glove ports and to ground-based scientists through real-time data links and video. The first glovebox, managed by the Marshall Center, has proven so useful that a second one will be delivered to the station so crew members can do even more life sciences experiments in a contained environment.

Even as he spends his work days ensuring astronauts have the resources needed to conduct science experiments, Griffin will head home after a long day at the office and put his mechanical skills to use helping neighborhood children learn how to repair and maintain their bicycles.

Griffin’s activities include participating as an active member of the Juvenile Conference Committee — helping at-risk kids stay out of trouble, and current president of the Northwest Huntsville Neighborhood Association, working with residents to improve the local community at a grass-roots level.

Griffin also dabbles in the arts as a poet and member of Art and Soul Society of Expression and, as a member of Phi Beta Sigma service fraternity, has dedicated his life to embodying the simple motto of that fraternity: “Culture for service and service for humanity.”