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Michael Fuchs is Honored
Pieces of space flight support hardware cover the desk of Michael Fuchs, a mechanical design engineer in Kennedy Space Center's Spaceport Engineering and Technology directorate.

Fuchs enjoys working with his hands on hardware and using his wits to solve engineering issues, and this passion for his job may have contributed to his selection to receive his directorate's 2005 Employee of the Year Award.

The award applauds him for performing the mechanical engineering design and analysis on the prototype tire carrier to house the orbiter's main landing gear tire, wheel and brake assemblies. He also worked on critical return-to-flight projects, including fluid and structural analysis for the hydrogen vent test of the space shuttle's external tank.

Michael Fuchs, Engineering and Technology Directorate's Employee of the Year Fuchs was nominated by Scott Murray, chief of the Materials Science Laboratory Division at Kennedy in Florida. His former supervisor, Eric Thaxton, also applauds his work and observes, "Michael is a rare combination of practical, down-to-earth experience along with technical excellence. His work on the orbiter tire carrier is just one project in a steady stream of top-quality work."

Image left: Michael Fuchs holding his favorite item - space hardware. Image credit: NASA/KSC

He is stationed in a machine shop with two fellow engineers, Greg Melton and Adam Dokos. They work closely with a team of skilled machinists and technicians. The group's strong points include analyzing a problem and implementing a solution quickly.

The career path of Fuchs was atypical, to say the least. Encouraged by his parents and grandparents from an early age, he was home-schooled and started his engineering education as a young teenager.

A self-described "mechanical geek," Fuchs pursued his education by incorporating personal projects into his formal schooling. As a teenager, he designed and built a 14-foot ultralight helicopter that his parents allowed him to store in the family living room for five years. He has also designed and built several jet and rocket engines.

His education took him across the country. In New Mexico, Fuchs became a certified welder and machinist, worked for Sandia National Laboratory and attended engineering school at the University of New Mexico. He met his wife, Yvonne, while serving as a co-op at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia.

He graduated from the University of Texas, and both Fuchs and his wife now enjoy working at Kennedy. In their spare time, they are building an ultralight aircraft that they designed together in their garage.

Kay Grinter
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center