photo of Tim Crain

During May commencement ceremonies the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Timothy P. Crain was recognized as one four outstanding young graduates who have become influential leaders in the engineering community.

Outstanding Young Graduate selections are based on distinguished contributions to the practice of engineering,excellent direction to an organization that has made noteworthy, national or international contributions,exceptional community service,strong interest in the Cockrell School of Engineering and exceptional role modeling to current or prospective engineering students.

Timothy Crain, currently an aerospace engineer in NASA’s aeroscience and flight mechanics division, graduated with a doctorate in 2000 after earning a master’s degree in 1999 and bachelor’s degree with highest honors in 1995, all three in aerospace engineering.  After graduation Crain joined the advanced mission design branch of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston working on plans for human exploration of Mars.

Crain was also recognized during university commencement ceremonies by the Texas Exes, The University of Texas Alumni Association, as a 2008 Outstanding Young Texas Ex. The award, inaugurated in 1980 by the Texas Exes, annually recognizes four young alumni who are distinguished in their fields and have demonstrated a continuing interest in The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Exes.

At NASA, Crain has developed the design of navigation systems for both human and robotic spacecraft involved in entry, descent, landing and rendezvous, proximity operations, and docking.  These designs were used for the upcoming 2009 Mars Science Laboratory, the mini-AERCam free-flying inspection vehicle, the Hubble robotic servicing vehicle, and provided the foundation for the Orion crew exploration vehicle.  He is currently working toward humanity’s return to the moon as the Orion orbit guidance, navigation, and control system manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. 

While at the university, Crain received the Texas Excellence Award and played football on a scholarship for two years under Coaches David McWilliams and John Mackovic.  His teams beat OU both years (1991 and 1992) before a knee injury directed him from the playing field to the research field at the Applied Physics Labs.  After earning his bachelor’s degree, he welcomed the opportunity to study Mars exploration under Professors Robert Bishop and Wallace Fowler as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow.

While in Austin, Crain refined a deep love of music inherited from his parents and took up the guitar.  He currently plays bass guitar in the contemporary worship service at Clear Lake United Methodist Church and for an original rock band, DC3, with two other NASA engineers.  Crain has been married to Melissa since 1994 and they have three children, Jessica, 9, Isabella, 7, and Connor, 4.  All can sing the “Eyes of Texas.”