University Distinguished Achievement Award
Alumnus Homer Hickam is recipient of Distinguished Achievement Award for 2007
By Allan Miller,
Homer Hickam, nationally known freelance writer and best-selling book author, is the recipient of the 2007 University Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of his personal and professional achievement.
Homer Hickam graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelors degree in industrial engineering in 1964. A member of the corps of cadets, his activities on campus included building the first "Skipper"--Tech's famous cannon. He is also a member of the Caldwell Society, one of Virginia Techs donor recognition societies.
Following completion of his studies at Virginia Tech, Hickam served as first lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry Division in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Army Commendation and Bronze Star medals. Hickam was subsequently employed as an engineer for the U.S. Army Missile Command from 1969 until 1981, when he became employed with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an aerospace engineer. During his time with NASA, he worked in spacecraft design and crew training and, until his retirement in 1998, was the Payload Training Manager for the International Space Station Program.
Hickam is a critically acclaimed freelance writer and best-selling book author. His second book, Rocket Boys is one of a series of four novels based on the author's life experiences and recollections of Coalwood, W.Va. The book inspired the popular film October Sky and became an instant classic. It also attained number one ranking on The New York Times bestseller list, and is currently one of the most often selected Community Reads books chosen for study in secondary school systems nationwide.
Hickam's latest work includes the popular Josh Thurlow series of novels set during World War II. Like Hickam, his protagonist, Josh Thurlow, is a Virginia Tech graduate.
An avid amateur paleontologist, Hickam recently discovered two specimens of Tyrannosaurs Rex in Montana.