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Dave Johnson ’01
“Rocket Scientist” Competes on Survivor

When CBS began airing its latest adventure reality TV series, Survivor: The Amazon, in February, mechanical engineering graduate Dave Johnson ’01 was among the 16 contestants vying to eliminate the others and walk away with $1 million.

Called “rocket scientist,” because he works for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Johnson lasted eight episodes, at the end of which he was voted out by his “tribe” members who considered him a strong competitor and therefore a threat. He had lasted long enough to be invited back for the final episode to vote on the winner, and earned an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Johnson’s final words after the 8-1 vote that ousted him were: “I came on this show with one goal in mind, and that was for a time for personal reflection and to face the challenge at hand and see how well I could do. It was a test of integrity, it was a test of both my physical and mental strength, and under that criteria, I’m quite happy with how I did.”

Rensselaer Magazine: June 2003
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