- State College Area School District
- Distinguished Alumni
2009 James R. Bathurst, Jr.
James R. Bathurst, Jr., State College Area High School class of 1955, received his B.A. degree in psychology from Penn State in 1965, and started his professional career as an engineering psychologist with HRB-Singer in State College. Following his investigative participation in the cause of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor incident in 1979, he recommended various design changes and later helped redesign a number of American and Japanese nuclear control rooms.
He was a co-researcher responsible for the mandated high-mounted rear brake lights on all American automobiles. Mr. Bathurst also developed numerous control and display concepts for military weapon systems and has performed research, published, and spoken on Vehicular Accident Avoidance Skill Training.
He worked on both NASA’s Skylab and the International Space Station, assisting their developers design the astronaut interfaces to the experiments and tests being conducted onboard.
In May 2008, while employed by Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville AL, Mr. Bathurst received NASA's Distinguished Public Service Medal, its highest award for a non-government employee, which 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."
After being treated for both Parkinson’s disease and tongue cancer, he was eventually told he was cancer-free, and he sent this message to all State High students:
“Though I am said to be cancer free now, my days doing what I have done for so many wonderful years may be cut shorter than I envisioned. No matter. Life has been and continues to be really good. Attending State High with the rest of the class of '55 was a significant part of that good. My hope for you is that when you reach my age and look back upon your life, you can say the same about your high school experiences and mean it.”