September 3, 2015
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Duncan Hall – McMurtry Auditorium
Reception at 6:30 pm in the lobby in front of McMurtry
NASA Engineer and former Apollo 13 Spacecraft Warning System Engineer
For more than 45 years, Jerry Woodfill, the former Apollo 13 Spacecraft Warning System Engineer, has studied Apollo 13’s rescue from an educational perspective. Likewise, he has integrated his personal experience during that April week in 1970 with his research. This has resulted in a number of interviews, presentations, and web publications. Most notable among them are a pair of series published by Universe Today. The first appeared in April of 2010 on the 40th anniversary of the rescue. The series entitled “13 Things That Saved Apollo 13” was deemed to be the definitive publication for the 40th Anniversary of the rescue. For the 45th Anniversary, Universe Today once more requested interviews with Jerry about added items he had discovered. Thus, a sequel to the original series: “13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13” appeared recently at: http://www.universetoday.com/119747/13-more-things-that-saved-apollo-13/ Jerry’s program will feature some of those “13 Things…” from both series, things not generally known or publicized.
For more than 50 years, Jerry Woodfill has been employed by NASA in Houston. He holds BAEE and BSEE degrees from Rice University which he attended on a basketball scholarship. Rice has designated Jerry among “Notable Alumni” based on his motivational presentations and role in the Apollo Program. At the onset of the lunar landing program, he managed the spacecraft warning systems so that he was monitoring the Eagle’s descent when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon.
Likewise, on April 13, 1970, Jerry was monitoring Apollo 13’s warning system when the vehicle exploded. His system was the first alert of the life-threatening malfunction depicted in the movie Apollo 13. Universal Studios designated Jerry as a national spokesman to the media for the release of the film Apollo 13, The IMAX Experience. This has led to Jerry sharing a program entitled, “Failure Is Not an Option: Steps to Success,” which features his career and his involvement with the first lunar landing and rescue of Apollo 13.
For his role in the rescue of Apollo 13, he shared the Presidential Medal of Freedom as a member of the Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team. A popular educational speaker, he often presents a recreation of President John Kennedy’s Rice Stadium Moon Race talk. As a Rice student, Jerry was inspired by JFK’s message to the extent that it led to Jerry’s more than half-century career at NASA.