THOSE WHO TEACH
HOG WILD ABOUT STARS
Eric Klumpe (pronounced KLOOM-PA), an MTSU Physics and Astronomy professor and astronautical engineer, describes himself as your “basic geek.”
Before arriving at MTSU in 1999, he worked for a dozen years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where his efforts contributed to the Voyager spacecraft and Galileo Project—launched to explore Jupiter and its moons.
Most mornings, Klumpe straps on a helmet and travels to campus on his Harley-Davidson—a motorcycle he has ridden over the Tail of the Dragon, a corkscrew stretch of road near the Great Smoky Mountains featuring a dizzying 318 curves in 11 miles. He likes all kinds of music but has a weakness for “face-melting guitar solos.”
Klumpe’s passion is being an educator—one who challenges his students to work hard and believe they can reach far beyond what they thought was possible.
“I want to change students’ lives for the better,” he said.
After graduating high school, Klumpe’s GPA was so low that no four-year college would accept him. His life changed when he accompanied a friend to a community college and an admissions counselor engaged Klumpe in a conversation. After earning his associate degree, he was accepted at prestigious Caltech and over time earned four advanced degrees.
Klumpe also serves as director of MTSU Observatories. He oversaw the design and construction of MTSU’s Uranidrome, a self-guided naked-eye observatory near the campus telescope.
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