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Steve Altes

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Steve Altes
Born (1962-11-13) November 13, 1962 (age 53)
Syracuse, New York
Nationality United States
Education S.B. (Aeronautics and Astronautics), S.M. (Aeronautics and Astronautics), S.M. (Technology and Policy)
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Occupation writer, graphic novelist, engineer
Known for humorous adventure essays, Geeks & Greeks
Spouse(s) Diana Jellinek
Awards National Medal of Technology

Steve Altes is an American writer and former aerospace engineer. He writes humorous essays about his misadventures.[1]

Early life[edit]

Altes was born on November 13, 1962 in Syracuse, NY. He graduated from Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Manlius, NY in 1980.[2] In high school, although his time in the mile "impressed no one," Altes once ran a track meet in clown make-up.[1] In 2000 when Altes was inducted into the Fayetteville-Manlius Hall of Distinction as one of the high school's "notable alumni" he acknowledged the dichotomy in his career segue from engineering to entertainment, saying, "I owe a tremendous debt to those dedicated teachers for the serious half of my career. For the silly half, I’d like to thank all the class clowns."[3]


Altes holds three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- S.B., Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1984; S.M., Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1986; and S.M., Technology and Policy, 1986.[4]

In 1982 Altes was one of five in a MIT team on a forty-foot-long "bicycle" that set a world land-speed record for a human-powered vehicle.[1] His master's thesis, "The Aerospace Plane: Technological Feasibility and Policy Implications,"[5] was reviewed by James Fallows in The New York Review of Books in 1986.[6]

After college, Altes worked as a space policy analyst for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.[1] He left Capitol Hill for a position as Program Control Manager for the Pegasus air-launched space booster at Orbital Sciences Corporation. In 1991 Altes was part of the Orbital Sciences team that was awarded the National Medal of Technology (the nation's highest award for technological achievement) by President George H. W. Bush for developing Pegasus.[7][8][9] He is also a co-recipient of the 1990 Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement in Aerospace.[10]

Due to his varied endeavors in the fields of engineering and entertainment, Altes is sometimes listed as one of MIT's more "notable alumni."[11][12][13][14][15][16]


In the mid-1990s Altes left engineering for a career in entertainment and writing.


Altes has written a series of first-person participatory adventure essays about experiences such as:

These essays have appeared in magazines and newspapers like Salon,[27] The Washington Post,[19] the Los Angeles Times,[26] The Christian Science Monitor,[28] Capital Style,[29] The Writer,[21] Urban Male Magazine,[30] Funny Times,[31] and P.O.V.[22]


In 1997 Altes's The Little Book of Bad Business Advice was published by St. Martin's Press.

In 2001 Altes's sequel, If You Jam the Copier, Bolt was published by Andrews McMeel Publishing.[32]

In 2005 Altes was a contributor to Michael J. Rosen's May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor anthology. His piece satirized his career as a male model.[33]

In 2006 humor editor Judy Brown selected twenty of Altes's jokes to appear in her anthology Joke Express: Instant Delivery of 1,424 Funny Bits from the Best Comedians.[34]

In 2014 Altes ran a Kickstarter[35] campaign which raised $43,098 to finance the illustration of a graphic novel he wrote about hacks at MIT titled Geeks & Greeks.[36][37] The graphic novel was illustrated by Andy Fish and was published in 2016.[38][39][40]

Film appearances[edit]

Altes has appeared in a number of films and television shows after being accidentally "discovered" and cast as a German terrorist in Die Hard With a Vengeance in 1995.[1][41][42]

Year Film Role
2000 Hollow Man Dad
1999 Girl, Interrupted Medic
1997 Shadow Conspiracy[43] Secret Service agent
1995 Die Hard With a Vengeance German terrorist

Print modeling[edit]

Altes has worked as a commercial print model and hand model.[20][44][45]


Altes has also been:


  • 1991 - National Medal of Technology (co-recipient)
  • 1990 - National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement in Aerospace (co-recipient)


Altes lives in the Los Angeles area and is married to acting coach Diana Jellinek.[48]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Model/Actor/Scientist Adds Writer to Resume". Lawrence Journal-World. Lawrence, KS. 1998-09-10. 
  2. ^ "Valedictorian Tradition Scrapped at High Schools". Washington Times. Washington, DC. 1999-05-07. 
  3. ^ "Hall of Distinction Inductees". Manlius, NY. 2000-06-01. 
  4. ^ "MIT Graduate Inspires Crowd with Life Experience". The Tech (MIT). Washington, DC. 1998-12-01. 
  5. ^ "The Aerospace Plane: Technological Feasibility and Policy Implications" (PDF). 1986-05-01. 
  6. ^ "The Americans in Space". The New York Review of Books. New York City, NY. 1986-12-18. 
  7. ^ "Technology and the Future Warrior: Protecting Soldiers in the 21st Century". M.I.T. Cambridge, MA. 2004-09-23. 
  8. ^ "Rocket Scientist Turns to Entertainment". Cambridge, MA. 2008-09-01. 
  9. ^ "The National Medal of Technology and Innovation 1991 Laureates". Washington, DC. 1991-01-01. 
  10. ^ "National Air and Space Museum Trophy Recipients". Washington, DC. 1990-06-01. 
  11. ^ "Notable Alumni: After Departing from MIT, Alumni Make their Mark on the World". The Tech. Cambridge, MA. 1999-05-04. 
  12. ^ "Notable Alumni". MIT Admissions. Cambridge, MA. 2014-09-04. 
  13. ^ "12 MIT Grads that Changed the World". Boston, MA. 2011-02-16. 
  14. ^ "Top 10 famous alumni of MIT". 2014-09-08. 
  15. ^ "MIT's 150th Birthday". 2011-04-01. 
  16. ^ Fordham, Sara (2009-09-30). "The Rival Rundown: Caltech vs MIT". College Candy. Retrieved 2016-08-06. 
  17. ^ "Reverend Me". Los Angeles, CA. 2004-06-01. 
  18. ^ "So, You Want a Piece of Me?" (PDF). Tear Sheet magazine. New York City, NY. 2000-06-01. 
  19. ^ a b "Standing In for Brad". Washington Post. Washington, DC. 1997-03-26. 
  20. ^ a b "Guy on the Box" (PDF). Tear Sheet magazine. New York City, NY. 2000-12-01. 
  21. ^ a b "How to Become an Author in Four Easy Steps" (PDF). The Writer. Boston, MA. 1999-03-01. 
  22. ^ a b "The Fugitive" (PDF). P.O.V. magazine. New York City, NY. 1998-08-01. 
  23. ^ "Bill Clinton Hit on My Wife" (PDF). Capital Style magazine. Washington, DC. 1998-10-01. 
  24. ^ "The Basement with Bill" (PDF). New York Post. New York City, NY. 1998-09-24. 
  25. ^ "Jove Laughs, They Say: Lewinsky as Text". 2000-01-01. 
  26. ^ a b "My Short, Sorry Career as a Spy". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. 2003-02-24. 
  27. ^ "Brad and Me". Washington, DC. 1998-04-27. Archived from the original on October 20, 2007. 
  28. ^ "How I Became a CIA Spy for a Day". Christian Science Monitor. Boston, MA. 3 March 2003. 
  29. ^ "Capital Style Overcomes Substance". Washington Business Journal. Washington, DC. 1998-11-09. 
  30. ^ "Reverend Me" (PDF). Urban Male Magazine. Canada. Spring 2004. 
  31. ^ "Confessions About My Baby". Cleveland Heights, OH. 2007-11-01. 
  32. ^ "Books Represented". New York City, NY. 2015-08-19. 
  33. ^ "May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor". 2015-08-12. 
  34. ^ Brown, Judy (August 2007). Joke Express: Instant Delivery of 1,424 Funny Bits from the Best Comedians (1st ed.). Andrews McMeel Publishing. pp. 7, 23, 37, 45, 68, 107, 108, 110, 137, 181, 189, 218, 220, 227, 233, 236, 239, 260, 265, 272. ISBN 978-0740760471. 
  35. ^ "Geeks & Greeks – an epic graphic novel about MIT pranks". Los Angeles, CA. 2014-06-12. 
  36. ^ "How Stunt Work on Die Hard Led to a Graphic Novel About MIT Hacks". MIT Slice of Life blog. Cambridge, MA. 2015-05-08. 
  37. ^ a b "Humor Writer to Publish Graphic Novel on Hacks". Cambridge, MA. 2015-04-21. 
  38. ^ Moore, Karleigh (2016-04-08). "Book Review: A Tale of Hazing and Hacking at MIT". The Tech (MIT). Retrieved 2016-08-09. 
  39. ^ Bench, Anthony (2016-08-08). "Geeks & Greek Review". FanboyNation. Retrieved 2016-08-09. 
  40. ^ Adkins, Jana (2016-08-01). "From Aerospace Engineer to Life as a Spy". Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal. Retrieved 2016-08-09. 
  41. ^ "IMDB - Steve Altes". Los Angeles, CA. 2014-09-04. 
  42. ^ "Yippie-Ki-Yay, Mr. Falcon". Retrieved 2015-08-12. 
  43. ^ "Shooting Charlie Sheen". Hollywood, CA. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  44. ^ "Goodbye, Modeling". Retrieved 2015-08-12. 
  45. ^ "Living Blue in the Red States". 2015-08-12. 
  46. ^ "Screenplay deals closed 2006". Los Angeles, CA. 2006-06-01. 
  47. ^ "Bad Move". National Public Radio. Los Angeles, CA. 2003-05-26. 
  48. ^ "IMDB - Diana Jellinek". Los Angeles, CA. 2014-09-04. 

External links[edit]