Former NASA team leader and Brickie returns to inspire students

2014-03-06T12:39:00Z 2014-03-06T14:42:14Z Former NASA team leader and Brickie returns to inspire studentsDamian Rico, The Times
March 06, 2014 12:39 pm  • 

HOBART | Former NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) team member Michelle Ham has a great passion for education. She is even more dedicated to sharing her extensive knowledge.

On Feb. 28, Brickie alum (1996) Michelle Ham brought her message to Hobart High School in an attempt to connect with students and encourage them follow their passion.

"I travel all over and meet many students but it's surreal to come home and talk with kids from my own community," said Ham. "I was amazed how engaged the audience was and how focused they are about taking their learning to the next level. I believe that speaks volumes for the teachers and administration."

After working for NASA, Ham started her own company centered around her vast knowledge of her favorite subject. Ham now tours the world introducing her program Higher Orbits, a non-profit that helps launch students' interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as well as Leadership and Teamwork. 

She also promotes Mission Discovery, which invites students to work directly with astronauts, astronaut trainers, rocket scientists, and NASA leaders for a week in a camp-like environment. Students design an experiment and the winners' honor is having their work launch into space.

"I love what I do and there are numerous opportunities and scholarship," said Ham. "I'm exciting to bring Mission Discovery to Valparaiso University this summer and work with students in my home communities."

During Ham's time at NASA, she trained nearly every astronaut in the corps for their expeditionary flight or thier space shuttle flight to ISS. Michelle was also responsible for large portions of technical and basic instructional training for flight controllers and instructors in the United States and internationally.

"It's very exciting when students can meet Brickie alumni who were able to take advantages of educational opportunities that ultimately helped them achieve their goals," said Dr. Peggy Buffington, "Michelle's passion, dedication and hard work helped her accomplish her career objectives and it's inspiring for our students to meet such a role model."

For more information about various scholarships and the Valparaiso program, slated for July 21-25, visit or

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