Astronaut visits Scotland

18 September 2013

Former astronaut and NASA shuttle pilot Duane ‘Digger’ Carey visited Scotland in early September with his wife Cheryl, for a series of school presentations and public talks.

Digger first visited Caithness where he participated in the Caithness Science Festival. His talks and logistics were coordinated by Professor Iain Baikie, FInstP, CEO and founder of KP Technology, Angela Grain, Physics/Materials Researcher at KP Technology and Elena Baikie, Secretary and Software Engineer at KP Technology.

Throughout his weeklong visit to Caithness, Digger, spoke to approximately two thousand people of varying ages. He presented a number of interesting and motivational talks, with topics ranging from, his humble beginnings growing up in the housing projects of St Paul, Minnesota to his training and journey to the Hubble Telescope, with an emphasis on his educational preparation, his time in the US Air Force and his career as a fighter and test pilot. His aim is to inspire people, particularly the young, to believe in and then to achieve their dreams. He also expressed the importance of mathematics and physics for the foundations of learning new skills.

Hillhead Primary Schools Head Teacher, Mr A. Budge, stated “Astronauts are some of the great heroes of modern time yet Mr Carey presents himself very humbly and relates his Space Shuttle experiences in a very down to earth way which the pupils responded well to. They really enjoyed his visit.” One of Mr Budge’s Primary 5 pupils, Megan Fraser, said of Digger’s presentation “He showed us a film about a lot of things that were on his space shuttle Columbia like the food, the toilet and where they went to sleep. I really enjoyed this visit from Digger Carey. It was very interesting.”

It was not all work for Digger and Cheryl in Caithness, they thoroughly enjoyed a sightseeing visit to the Orkney Islands, kayaking round the local coast line and being invited to attend a reception at John O’Groats to celebrate the presentation of a Queen’s Award for International Trade to KP Technology Ltd.

After their week in the far north Digger and Cheryl then travelled down to Aberdeen where over the weekend they were entertained by members of the Robert Gordon’s College Physics Department visiting sights such as Footdee and Castle Fraser.  Digger then spoke to over 900 pupils at Robert Gordon’s College on Monday 9 September before giving the first Science in the Quad public lecture in the evening.Robert Gordon’s College and the Institute of Physics in Scotland are organising a series of monthly lectures through the autumn of 2013.

Primary 7 pupil, Anna Scott, said: “I really enjoyed watching the video which showed everyday things you need to know about life in a space shuttle. I asked Digger if you could use mobile phones in space and was really surprised to hear that a friend of his had received a phone call from her astronaut husband on September 11th 2001 checking she was safe as he watched what has happening from Space. I am really interested in space shuttles and astronaut life so was very excited to meet Digger today”.

Head of Physics at Robert Gordon’s College, Stuart Farmer, FInstP, said: “Hearing Digger Carey speak about living and working in space was a great way to launch the Science in the Quad lecture series.  His personal story of the motivation and drive that led him to become first a fighter pilot and then an astronaut and of the importance of a good physics, maths and engineering education was inspirational for all.”

Digger and Cheryl then travelled onwards from Aberdeen to London and Surrey for two more talks hosted by the Institute of Physics.

To find out more, visit Digger’s website, One-eighty out, Inc, at


Caithness Science Festival,

KP Technology Ltd,,

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

The Institute of Physics in Scotland

Robert Gordon’s College,

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