Lebanese-born NASA official to enter Order of the Cedars
Daily Star May 22, 2006
Lebanese-born Charles al-Achi * Charles ElAchi Biography, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, arrived Saturday in Beirut, where he will visit several Lebanese universities before President Emile Lahoud decorates him with the Order of the Cedars, officer grade.
A report published by Al-Balad daily on Sunday said that upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri International Airport, Achi addressed journalists, calling on Lebanon’s youth to “work hard in order to achieve their goals,” and adding that “everything is possible.” Achi also expressed affection for his native country, saying: “Lebanon is always on my mind … I am an American citizen of Lebanese origin.” Born in Riyaq, Zahle, Achi left Lebanon in 1964 to study in France after receiving a scholarship from President Charles Helou.
Four years later, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a diploma in engineering from a French university before continuing to earn a doctorate in electrical sciences from the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech). He eventually settled in California to raise his two daughters and has taught at Cal Tech for 30 years.
Achi has published some 230 papers on the subject of space exploration, and a small planet, “Achi 4116,” was even named to honor to his contribution in the field.
Even as a renowned academic and scientist, Achi never forgot where he came from.
“My office is decorated with photos of Lebanon, as well as the Lebanese flag,” he said.
The Al-Balad report said that Achi would visit Saint Joseph University’s Ain Saade campus on Monday before the medal ceremony.
Achi is scheduled to make several appearances Wednesday, including a lecture at the American University of Beirut on “The Challenges and Excitement of Space Exploration.”
On Thursday, Achi will visit the Lebanese American University’s Byblos campus, followed by the Louis Wegman School in Beshamoun, the report said.