Wildcat Tracks: Shoot for the Moon

Erin Taylor

Have you ever thought of where your degree from Villanova will take you? Andrew M. Allen, a 1977 Villanova graduate, used his mechanical engineering degree to prepare him for a life in space.

Currently, Allen is responsible for directing and managing shuttle processing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This position includes managing facilities and over 4,000 personnel, all of which are required to process the space shuttle from launch to landing.

Allen is a native of Pennsylvania, graduating from Archbishop Wood High School in 1973 and continuing his education at Villanova.

In college, he was a member of the NROTC and upon graduation was commissioned as a U.S. Marine Corps officer. After completing flight school, he flew F-4 Phantoms with VMFA-312 at Marines Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, S.C. He was then selected by the Marine Corps for fleet introduction of the F/A-18 Hornet which moved him to El Toro, Calif.

During his stay, he attended and graduated from the Marine Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course and the Naval Flight Weapons School. In 1987, he graduated from the United States Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md. In that same year, he was advised of his selection to the astronaut program. During his time as a pilot, Allen logged over 6,000 flight hours.

Allen began his career as an astronaut in August 1988. He piloted two shuttles in 1992 and 1994, and served as mission commander in 1996. These three space flights have given Allen more than 900 hours in space.

His first mission, STS-46, was aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, where he completed projects in conjunction with the Italian Space Agency.

During his second mission, aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, he conducted a range of experiments with biotechnology, advanced technology and environmental monitoring.

On his third trip into space, Allen launched the reflight of the Tethered Satellite System, which produced a wealth of information concerning the use of tethers in space operations.

In 1997, Allen retired from the Marine Corps and NASA, and began his job with the United Space Alliance. He returned to campus in 1997 to receive an honorary doctorate of engineering science from the University.

Allen is one of many Wildcat alumni who has made numerous accomplishments upon completing their degrees at Villanova.

With over 15.6 million miles of space travel logged, Allen has expanded the possibilities of where a Villanova degree can send you.

Wildcat Tracks is a bi-weekly column featuring prominent Villanova alumni, sponsored by START, the Student Alumni Relations Team.