Mathematician has been a member of the faculty since 1980 and department head since 2004.
WHAT: A career forum for students, "Roads Less Traveled: Alternative
Career Options for Engineers," sponsored by the Student Alumni/ae
WHEN: Monday, April 22, in Lecture Hall 10-250 at 7pm.
Steve Altes, who has three degrees from MIT and a varied career that
includes work in space rocket development, is currently a full-time
model and actor. He has appeared in feature films, television shows,
commercials and soap operas and he also works as actor Brad Pitt's
stand-in and photo-double.
He will be on a panel of MIT alumni/ae who have pursued alternative
Also participating will be Bruce Morrison, former congressman from
Connecticut and now chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board.
(The accompanying biography was supplied by Steve Altes.)
Steve Altes is . . . well, he sort of defies classification. He is
another one of those aerospace engineer/assistant to the
president/actor/authors you hear so much about. "I'm just working
through the "a" occupations first. Bee-keeper and bond-trader are next,"
according to Steve. Whether he's a renaissance man or simply unable to
hold a job isn't clear.
What we do know is that Steve holds three degrees from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT): a bachelor's and master's in Aerospace
Engineering as well as a master's in Public Policy. While at MIT, Steve
worked as a scuba-diver for NASA in a full-size underwater mock-up of
the Space Shuttle, helping them simulate the effects of weightlessness.
He was also in charge of a team of MIT students who broke the world land
speed record for a human powered vehicle in 1982. Their invention was
later displayed in the Boston Museum of Science. Around this time,
Steve's early dabbling in comedy writing paid off when he sold some
material to National Lampoon.
Steve's graduate thesis on the future of the U.S. space program made a
real splash in the field. It was excerpted in numerous magazines and
newspapers; was cited in congressional testimony; and was even reviewed
by James Fallows in The New York Review of Books.
When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, concerned Senate staffers
asked Steve to join them in a study of the nation's space transportation
systems. After two years on Capitol Hill, he headed for the private
sector 2E. At Orbital Sciences Corporation (Fairfax, VA) Steve worked on
the Pegasus air-launched space booster as the Program Control Manager,
in charge of the project's budget, schedule, and business operations.
Pegasus was historic in that it was the world's first
privately-developed space launch vehicle. The rocket was so
revolutionary and successful that in 1990 Steve and the rest of the
Pegasus team were presented with the National Medal of Technology by
President Bush in a White House ceremony. The National Medal of
Technology is the nation's highest award for engineering achievement.
Past recipients include Steven Jobs of Apple Computer, Robert Noyce
(inventor of the microchip), and David Packard of Hewlitt-Packard. Steve
and the Pegasus team were also awarded the National Air and Space
Museum's Trophy for Current Achievement in Aerospace, on display at the
Museum in Washington, DC.
Steve left OSC to work for Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation (Manassas,
VA), where he raised $1 million to build a new class of unmanned,
high-altitude aircraft for research on stratospheric ozone depletion and
Following this project, Steve went to work for the Clinton-Gore campaign
and ended up as an assistant to President-elect Clinton at the
Governor's Mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas during the presidential
transition. He also served with Dr. Sally Ride on the NASA Transition
Team and evaluated science and technology proposals for the new
Turning down an offer to work in the Clinton administration, Steve
formed Zadina Altes Associates, Inc. to provide management consulting
services to high-tech companies and perform press advance work for the
White House, domestically and abroad.
In early 1995, Steve switched courses again and now is a full-time model
and actor in feature films, television shows, commercials, and soap
operas. He also works as Brad Pitt's stand-in and photo-double.
In March 1996 Steve sold a comedy book to St. Martin's Press entitled,
"The Little Book of Bad Business Advice." The book is due out later this
For fun, Steve has an unusual hobby. A black belt in kick-boxing, Steve
is employed part-time by the F.B.I. to teach new agents "street smarts"
before they graduate from the academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Steve is 33 years old and lives in Washington, DC and New York City.