Al Sacco Jr. is dean of the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas. Before coming to Texas Tech, he was the George A. Snell Distinguished Professor of Engineering and the director of the Center for Advanced Microgravity Materials Processing at Northeastern University.
He flew as the payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia on shuttle mission STS-73 in 1995. The 16-day mission aboard Columbia focused on materials science, biotechnology, combustion science and fluid mechanics contained within the pressurized Spacelab module.
Born in Boston, Mass., Sacco completed a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northeastern University in Boston in 1973, and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. He then joined the faculty of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, becoming a full professor and serving as the chair of the chemical engineering department from 1989 until 1997, when he joined the faculty at Northeastern. He has consulted for numerous companies in the fields of catalysis, solid/gas contacting, zeolite synthesis and applications, and equipment design for space applications.
Sacco has more than 192 publications (including book chapters) in the areas of carbon filament initiation and growth, transition metal and acid catalyst and their deactivation, and zeolite synthesis, and he has been the principal investigator on more than $24 million in research grants.
Using his space flight experience, Sacco has given more than 300 presentations to approximately 27,000 K-12 teachers and their students as a means to motivate students to consider careers in science and engineering. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and in 2004 was elected to the International Academy of Astronautics.