Steve Altes

Engineer , Model , Actor, Author

Biography - Steve Altes

Steve Altes has had an eclectic career path. Having worked as an aerospace engineer, an aide to the president, an author, and now an actor, he observes “I'm just working through the 'a' occupations first. Bee-keeper and belly-dancer are next.” Whether he's a renaissance man or simply unable to hold a job isn't clear.

1962 - 1995: The Serious Years

That we do know is that Steve holds three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): a bachelor's and master's in Aerospace Engineering as well as a master's in Public Policy. At MIT, he conducted research on space station construction techniques using SCUBA gear and a full-size underwater Space Shuttle mock-up at the NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center.

He led a team of MIT students in designing and building a five-person, forty-foot long, high technology “bicycle,” to break the world land speed record of 63 mph for a human powered vehicle. This invention is on display at the Boston Museum of Science.

Steve's 1986 master’s thesis on the future of the U.S. space program was quoted in numerous magazines and cited in congressional testimony. It became the only college thesis in history ever reviewed by The New York Review of Books.

After the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, the Office of Technology Assessment (Congress’s think tank) asked Steve to participate in a thorough review of the nation's space transportation systems. After two years on Capitol Hill, he left government to follow his entrepreneurial urges.

At Orbital Sciences Corporation Steve became Program Control Manager for Pegasus, the world's first privately-developed space launch vehicle. This rocket was so revolutionary that in 1991 Steve and the other Pegasus team members were presented with the National Medal of Technology by President Bush in a White House ceremony. The National Medal of Technology is the nation's highest award for technological innovation. At age 28, Steve was the youngest person ever awarded this Medal. Steve and the Pegasus team also received the 1990 National Air and Space Museum's Trophy for Current Achievement in Aerospace.

In 1992 he joined the Clinton-Gore campaign and worked closely with astronaut Sally Ride on the Presidential Transition Team generating options for reorganizing NASA.

The next few years he worked as a free-lance consultant for several Washington, DC high-tech firms in capacities as varied as finance, marketing, business development, and government relations.

1995 - present: The Silly Years

In 1995, Steve threw his education down the drain and began work as an actor and model. Since then he has appeared in over 400 print ads and television commercials, as well as the films Shadow Conspiracy, The Peacemaker, Random Hearts, Girl Interrupted, Hollow Man and Spy Game.

In 1997, St. Martin’s Press published his Little Book of Bad Business Advice, a collection of humorous quips and maxims about business life. A sequel, If You Jam the Copier, Bolt, was published in 2001 by Andrews McMeel.

Steve’s reputation as an essayist continues to grow. Typically, he gets hired into unusual occupations and writes droll accounts of his misadventures. These undercover exploits have earned him the title “George Plimpton of his generation.” Some of the escapades Steve has written about include: aide to Bill Clinton, FBI trainer, CIA applicant, stand-in for Brad Pitt, hand model, and stripper. His self-deprecating articles have run in places like Salon, P.O.V., National Lampoon, Capital Style, Washington Post, Washingtonian, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner, Tear Sheet, Boston Phoenix, Christian Science Monitor, Writer, Generation Next, Technology Review, Woman's Own, Complete Woman, Penthouse, Player, Today's Black Woman, and Zink.

Today Steve works full-time as a writer, speaker, actor, and model. He lives with his wife, Diana Jellinek, in Los Angeles, where he is made uncomfortable writing about himself in the third-person.