NASA Engineer Kobie Boykins to Present EXPLORING THE RED PLANET at Holland Center, 4/22

NASA Engineer Kobie Boykins to Present EXPLORING THE RED PLANET at Holland Center, 4/22

Omaha Performing Arts presents National Geographic Live's Exploring the Red Planet, with Kobie Boykins, NASA engineer, on Tuesday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. in Kiewit Hall in the Holland Performing Arts Center. The show is part of Omaha Performing Arts' 2013/14 Speaker Series. Tickets start at $20 and are available at TicketOmaha.com, 402.345.0606 or at the Ticket Omaha Office inside the Holland Center, 1200 Douglas St.

When the Omaha native Boykins speaks on the stage in Kiewit Hall, he'll share stories about his work on the famous Mars rovers, as well as show the latest images from Mars. Boykins will also talk about the future of space exploration.

Boykins graduated from Omaha Northwest High School in 1992. He earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., beginning his career in the aerospace industry in the Advanced Mechanical Systems group at NASA/Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a student. After graduation, he began his first program, working on the entry, descent and landing systems for the Mars Pathfinder rover. He has since worked on the Sojourner, Exploration, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity rovers.

As a Solar Array Cognizant Engineer for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, Boykins designed the deployable solar array structure and mechanisms that power the rovers. Both have outlasted their predicted life significantly and have found indications of past existence of water on Mars.

For the past several years, Boykins has been JPL's supervisor of the Mobility and Mechanisms Engineering group, within its Spacecraft Mechanical Engineering section. He has overseen the designing, building and testing of mechanisms and other mechanical hardware for a wide range of robotic space vehicles. These include the deployment and mobility mechanisms for Mars rovers, pyrotechnic devices, launch locks and latches, multi-axis gimbals as well as technology development for future missions. Currently, Boykins is working on a project called Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) as a technical advisor for the Spacecraft Solar Array and Deployable Boom.

In 2013, Boykins was awarded a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, one of the highest honors given to NASA employees and contractors. A featured National Geographic explorer and presenter, Boykins is also a featured scientist for Dr. Robert Ballard's JASON project educating youth in STEM.

In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald in 2012, Boykins talked about how the Mars missions will hopefully excite children. "I really believe," he said, "that missions like this really push the boundaries of what we can do in science, and really open people's eyes. To me, it's the young ones for whom everything is possible if they put their minds to it and put in the hard work."

Omaha Performing Arts is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to enriching the lives of the citizens of Omaha and surrounding communities. In its two venues: the Orpheum Theater and Holland Performing Arts Center, the organization presents the best of Broadway, jazz, blues, dance, comedy, family and popular entertainment. Omaha Performing Arts also offers a range of educational programs and free community events that support, enhance and expand appreciation for the arts. In addition, the organization provides comprehensive ticketing services through Ticket Omaha, the official ticket retailer for the Orpheum and Holland. For more information, visit OmahaPerformingArts.org.

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