When I worked on TNG, I spent most of my free time doing two things: painting Warhammer 40K miniatures, and hanging out in the art department.
I loved the art department. From the very first time I walked into their workspace, Mike Okuda and Rick Sternbach let me look at their sketches, geek out about the science part of science fiction, and gave me a place to go every day where it was okay to be a huge nerd who loved science and design.
They became my friends, and like my other cow-orker Guy Vardaman (who was my stand-in), they nurtured my geeky side so much, I was never "at risk" like other teenage actors who bought into the myth that all young actors should party their lives away in Hollywood night clubs.
I just saw this on Doug Drexler's blog:
to receive one of NASA’s highest honors; the NASA Exceptional Public
Service Medal. “The award is granted only to individuals whose
distinguished accomplishments contributed substantially to the NASA
mission. The contribution must be so extraordinary that other forms of
recognition would be inadequate.” Mike and Denise will be going to the
Johnson Space Center next month to the NASA Honor Awards Ceremony. Go Hot dog! GO!
WOW! Congratulations, Mike. This is an award that is richly deserved.