Some people want to become astronauts and become engineers instead. Other people love space and find a way to make it part of their lives without making it their career, like Peter Giakoumis
Giakoumis grew up inspired by space. “The idea of man being able to reach out into the stars and use technology, being able to create the vessels, the science, the math, everything that goes into launching a rocket and going beyond the bounds, the space of our Earth, is just mind blowing to me that we’re able to do something like that,” says Giakoumis.
Before the internet, it was harder to find out about far away opportunities. He didn’t know that NASA ran a space camp for kids until he saw a print ad in high school. “I thought that was one of the greatest things that anyone could possibly go to,” says Giakoumis.
By that time, he was too old to go to space camp. Cut to thirty years later. One night, he was up late browsing the internet when he happened to look up space camp. He found that it existed and that there was a family program. His 13 year-old son was the perfect age to go.
At space camp, Giakoumis got to live out one of his childhood dreams and share it with his son. “You know some people know about dinosaurs, some people know about other things, I happen to know a little more about space, so I was able to show off a little,” says Giakoumis, “It was an opportunity, we had never experienced something like that before.”
Giakoumis’ son was more into video games and comic books than space, the goal wasn’t to change that. But he did hope that his enthusiasm would rub off on him. Giakoumis didn’t expect his son to pursue a career in science, but he wanted him to know that science can be fun. “You can study whatever, be successful in whatever you choose to do, but you can always still pursue [science], even on a level as a fan or a hobbyist,” says Giakoumis.
Giakoumis wanted to share his space camp with others, so he did a little research and found that NASA trains volunteer space camp ambassadors. Now he visits schools and talks to groups about camp. He says that the expense often keeps young people from attending, many families have no idea that scholarships are available.
Giakoumis’ immigrant parents worked hard to give him opportunities, now he wants to do that for his son and others. “What more pleasure could I get than trying to positively influence the new generation?” he says, “Maybe someone I speak to goes on to pursue a career in science.” Giakoumis says that giving others an opportunity that he didn’t have fulfills his destiny.
Find out more about how you can go to space camp.