WPI's Al Sacco Announces Departure from University - Will Return to His Alma Mater

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, Mass. -- Professor Albert Sacco, head of the Chemical Engineering Department at WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) and astronaut who was part of the second U.S. Microgravity Laboratory mission aboard Columbia in 1995, today announced his resignation from the university effective June 1. Sacco will return to his alma mater, Northeastern University, where he received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1973 and an honorary doctor of engineering degree and the Outstanding Alumni Award in Science and Technology in 1996. He was a keynote speaker at Northeastern's 1996 commencement. At Northeastern he will hold the endowed Snell Chair in engineering.

"WPI wishes Professor Sacco every success in his future at Northeastern. He has been a valuable member of the WPI community for the past 20 years as a teacher, researcher, department head and member of numerous boards working for the advancement of our university," noted WPI Provost John F. Carney III. "His leadership and counsel will be missed."

Since his return from NASA 12 months ago Sacco has been evaluating his future goals and what was best for his family. "I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff, students, faculty and administration for the support and friendship that have been shown to me over the past 20 years," he said. "I will use the next three-plus months to work with WPI to make an orderly transition."

Sacco arrived at WPI in 1977 upon receiving his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT. He became head of the Chemical Engineering Department in 1989 and is best known for his research on zeolite crystal growth. His zeolite research and student-built experiment flew into space as part of a package of WPI experiments in 1990. His zeolite crystal growth research was aboard both the first and second Microgravity Laboratory. Selected a backup payload specialist for the first mission, he flew aboard the second microgravity mission during 16 days in 1995. A highlight of that mission was an educational science downlink from space for school children around the U.S.

Sacco received WPI Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Creative Scholarship in 1996 and an honorary Doctor of Science degree at WPI's 1996 commencement for his distinguished scholarly achievement on Earth and in space.