Mission Accomplished

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HCU Alum Plays Role in Artemis I Launch

Josh Erwin never imagined that he would one day play a role in a historic launch that would enhance U.S. space exploration. Growing up in a family of avid sports lovers, Erwin achieved his dream of playing collegiate sports when he earned a spot on the Houston Christian University (formerly Houston Baptist University) Husky football team.

A talented student-athlete who played safety on the Husky Football Team, Erwin successfully mastered his studies, earned Southland Conference All Academic Team honors and grew in his faith during his time in college. He credits the passion that HCU professors Dr. Gardo Blado and Dr. James Claycomb shared for the field of physics for inspiring him to change his major from pre-engineering to physics.

“I was always intrigued with discovery and creative investigation and enjoyed being able to use a series of processes and techniques to solve problems,” said Erwin, a graduate of Alvin High School.

His academic preparation at HCU paved the way for Erwin to carve out a successful career at NASA where he began working as an engineer creating simulation models used to train flight controllers and astronauts. A year later, he was promoted to flight controller in Mission Control before playing a pivotal role in the history-making launch of NASA’s Artemis I mission last fall.

“For the first time since the 1970s, we put a human rated spacecraft in the moon’s orbit and went further from earth than any human-rated spacecraft has ever gone before. Various different systems and operations were tested and verified on this mission that have built a stepping stone for the subsequent missions that will lead to putting American boots back on the moon,” said Erwin.

The HCU alum described the success of the Artemis I mission as “a monumental step for America’s human spaceflight program that opened the gates for the next generation of deep space human exploration.”

Looking back, he credits the foundation he received at HCU for being contributing factors to his success. “I valued the Christ-based foundation of the university that enables both academic and spiritual growth. There are many organizations at HCU that enable this development which helped me become a better student, athlete and professional,” said Erwin.

The Alvin, Texas native also attributed his alma mater’s small class sizes and his ability to form relationships with his professors for his academic success. “Instead of being one of a hundred in a class, I was given the opportunity to engage in direct communication and team coordination with my colleagues and professors on a daily basis. This helped me develop great leadership and relationship-building skills that brought great transitional value to my professional career,” shared Erwin. Beyond his academic and career achievements, Erwin credits his grandfather, Jack Mackey, for teaching him the importance of hard work and dedication, and above all, what it looks like to be a God fearing man.

Celebrating the birth of their first son, Erwin and his wife plan to pass on those same values. “I pray to raise him in the Gospel and cultivate his passions like many did for me,” said Erwin.

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