Perhaps Homer Hickam's most enduring impact on this University stems from one of his most memorable experiences: his work on the design and construction of the original "Skipper" cannon. When the Skipper was first fired at the 1963 Thanksgiving Day game between Virginia Tech and VMI, it shattered the windows of Roanoke's Victory Stadium press box. Mr. Hickam also wrote a highly-praised column in the Virginia Tech newspaper titled "Sound-Off!" and served as an executive officer in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. After graduating in 1964 with an Industrial Engineering degree, Mr. Hickam entered the United States Army where he served in Vietnam and posts around the world. After a six year stint, he left the service as a Captain. Pursuing his love of working on space flight, he began working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an aerospace engineer. Besides designing spacecraft and training astronauts, Mr. Hickam also followed his passion for writing. The result was his #1 New York Times Best-seller "Rocket Boys" which was made into the film "October Sky." His next book, "Back to the Moon: A Novel", has also been optioned to be made into a major motion picture. His latest work, "The Coalwood Way", will be released in the Fall of 2000. Mr. Hickam has stated that when he was a student at Virginia Tech, the only thing better than getting his class ring was graduating. In the years since, his ring has symbolized to him not only the tough classes and his successful graduation, but also the wonderful friends he made at the University. He says that his ring still serves as a handsome piece of jewelry and a built-in conversation piece, and remains one of his most prized possessions. Mr. Hickam believes that for the Virginia Tech student, the class ring is a connection with the University and to all those who have come before and will attend in the future. Mr. Hickam sums up why every student should buy a class ring: "To be eligible for a Virginia Tech class ring and not get one is unthinkable! It will pay for itself many, many times over during the coming years by identifying its wearer as a person who set a goal, attained it, and is proud of the heritage the ring represents."
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