Steve Altes

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Steve Altes
Born (1962-11-13) November 13, 1962 (age 61)
EducationS.B. (Aeronautics and Astronautics), S.M. (Aeronautics and Astronautics), S.M. (Technology and Policy)
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Writer
  • graphic novelist
  • engineer
Known forhumorous adventure essays, Geeks & Greeks
SpouseDiana Jellinek
AwardsNational Medal of Technology

Steve Altes (born November 13, 1962) 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, New York. He graduated from Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Manlius in 1980.[2] In high school, 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 (MIT): S.B., Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1984; S.M., Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1986; and S.M., Technology and Policy, 1986.[4]

In 1982, Altes was part of the MIT team that set a world land-speed record for a human-powered vehicle using a five-person, forty-foot-long "bicycle".[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 Congress 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 United States' highest award for technological achievement) by President George H. W. Bush for developing Pegasus.[7] He is a co-recipient of the 1990 Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement in Aerospace.[8]

Due to his varied endeavors in the fields of engineering and entertainment, Altes is sometimes listed as one of MIT's more "notable alumni".[9]


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,[18] The Washington Post,[12] the Los Angeles Times,[17] The Christian Science Monitor,[19] Capital Style,[20] The Writer,[14] Urban Male Magazine,[21] Funny Times[22] and P.O.V.[15]


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

In 2001, a sequel, If You Jam the Copier, Bolt was published by Andrews McMeel Publishing.[23]

In 2005, Altes was a contributor to Michael J. Rosen's anthology, May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor. His piece satirized his career as a male model.[24]

In 2006, the 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.[25]

In 2014, Altes ran a Kickstarter[26] campaign which raised $43,098 to finance the illustration of a graphic novel he had written about hacks at MIT, titled Geeks & Greeks.[27][28] The graphic novel was illustrated by Andy Fish and was published in 2016 to generally positive reviews.[29]

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][30]

Year Film Role
1995 Die Hard With a Vengeance German terrorist
1997 Shadow Conspiracy[31] Secret Service agent
1999 Girl, Interrupted Medic
2000 Hollow Man Dad

Print modeling[edit]

Altes has worked as a commercial print model and hand model.[13][32]


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 Diana Jellinek, an acting coach.[35]


  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". The Washington Times. Washington, DC. May 7, 1999.
  3. ^ "Hall of Distinction Inductees". Manlius, NY. June 1, 2000.
  4. ^ "MIT Graduate Inspires Crowd with Life Experience". The Tech (MIT). Washington, DC. December 1, 1998.
  5. ^ "The Aerospace Plane: Technological Feasibility and Policy Implications" (PDF). May 1, 1986. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 5, 2014.
  6. ^ "The Americans in Space". The New York Review of Books. New York City. December 18, 1986.
  7. ^ "Technology and the Future Warrior: Protecting Soldiers in the 21st Century". Cambridge, Massachusetts: M.I.T. September 13, 2004.
    - "Rocket Scientist Turns to Entertainment". Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 1, 2008.
    - "The National Medal of Technology and Innovation 1991 Laureates". Washington, DC. January 1, 1991.
  8. ^ "National Air and Space Museum Trophy Recipients". Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution. June 1, 1990.
  9. ^ "Notable Alumni: After Departing from MIT, Alumni Make their Mark on the World". The Tech. Cambridge, Massachusetts. May 5, 1999.
    - "Notable Alumni". MIT Admissions. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 4, 2014.
    - "12 MIT Grads that Changed the World". Boston, MA. February 16, 2011.
    - "Top 10 famous alumni of MIT". TopYaps. September 8, 2014.
    - "MIT's 150th Birthday". FastCompany. April 11, 2011.
    - Fordham, Sara (September 30, 2009). "The Rival Rundown: Caltech vs MIT". College Candy. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  10. ^ "Reverend Me". Los Angeles, CA. June 1, 2004.
  11. ^ "So, You Want a Piece of Me?" (PDF). Tear Sheet. New York City. June 1, 2000.
  12. ^ a b "Standing In for Brad". The Washington Post. Washington, DC. March 26, 1997.
  13. ^ a b "Guy on the Box" (PDF). Tear Sheet. New York City. December 1, 2000.
  14. ^ a b "How to Become an Author in Four Easy Steps" (PDF). The Writer. Boston. March 1, 1999.
  15. ^ a b "The Fugitive" (PDF). P.O.V. New York City. August 1, 1998.
  16. ^ "Bill Clinton Hit on My Wife" (PDF). Capital Style. Washington, DC. October 1, 1998.
    - "The Basement with Bill" (PDF). New York Post. New York City. September 24, 1998.
    - Gillis, John F. X. (January 1, 2000). "Jove Laughs, They Say: Lewinsky as Text". ISBN 9780761818052.
  17. ^ a b "My Short, Sorry Career as a Spy". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. February 24, 2003.
  18. ^ "Brad and Me". Salon. Washington, DC. April 27, 1998. Archived from the original on October 20, 2007.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  19. ^ "How I Became a CIA Spy for a Day". The Christian Science Monitor. Boston, MA. March 3, 2003.
  20. ^ "Capital Style Overcomes Substance". Washington Business Journal. Washington, DC. November 9, 1998.
  21. ^ "Reverend Me" (PDF). Urban Male Magazine. Canada. Spring 2004.
  22. ^ "Confessions About My Baby". Funny Times. Cleveland Heights, OH. November 1, 2007.
  23. ^ "Books Represented". New York City. August 19, 2015.
  24. ^ "May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor". August 12, 2015.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "Geeks & Greeks – an epic graphic novel about MIT pranks". Los Angeles, CA. June 12, 2014.
  27. ^ "How Stunt Work on Die Hard Led to a Graphic Novel About MIT Hacks". MIT Slice of Life blog. Cambridge, Massachusetts. May 8, 2015.
  28. ^ a b "Humor Writer to Publish Graphic Novel on Hacks". Cambridge, Massachusetts. April 21, 2015.
  29. ^ Moore, Karleigh (April 8, 2016). "Book Review: A Tale of Hazing and Hacking at MIT". The Tech (MIT). Retrieved August 9, 2016.
    - Bench, Anthony (August 8, 2016). "Geeks & Greek Review". FanboyNation. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
    - Adkins, Jana (August 1, 2016). "From Aerospace Engineer to Life as a Spy". Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
    - Pachter, Richard (August 11, 2016). "From John Lewis to Jughead, a Roundup of Graphic Novels". Miami Herald. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
    - Cornog, Martha (September 15, 2016). "Altes/Fishs, Beaumont, Clowes, Cornell/Parker, Girard, Jackson, Schulz - Graphic Novels Reviews". Library Journal[dead link]. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
    - Frank, Casey Rose (April 8, 2016). "Battle of the Geeks". The Post-Standard. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
    - Carreiro, Remy (September 5, 2016). "Animal House for the Tech Gen: Geeks & Greeks Graphic Novel Review". Forever Geek. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
    - Hughes, Johnny (September 8, 2016). "Review: Geeks & Greeks". Comic Crusaders. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
    - Ferno, Clay (August 10, 2016). "Talking Geeks & Greeks with Steve Altes and Andy Fish". Force Of Geek. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
    - Hickey, Patrick (August 25, 2016). "Steve Altes Talks Geeks & Greeks". Review Fix. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  30. ^ "IMDB - Steve Altes". IMDB. Los Angeles, CA. September 4, 2014.
    - "Yippie-Ki-Yay, Mr. Falcon". 2 February 2015. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  31. ^ "Shooting Charlie Sheen". YouTube. Hollywood, CA. Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  32. ^ "Goodbye, Modeling". Retrieved August 12, 2015.
    - Starkey, David (August 12, 2015). "Living Blue in the Red States". ISBN 978-0803209855.
  33. ^ "Screenplay deals closed 2006". Ink Tip. Los Angeles, CA. June 1, 2006.
  34. ^ "Bad Move". National Public Radio. Los Angeles, CA. May 26, 2003.
  35. ^ "Diana Jellinek". IMDB. Los Angeles, CA. September 4, 2014.

External links[edit]