William H. Gerstenmaier has been the Associate Administrator for Space Operations for NASA since 2002. Prior to being Associate Administrator, Gerstenmaier served as the International Space Station Office Program Manager, at Johnson Space Center, a position he began in June 2002.
Gerstenmaier graduated from Akron East High School in 1973, and followed the early space programs of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, as a teenager. He had early dreams of being a test pilot, and after high school, enrolled at the United States Naval Academy. After seeing so many pilots returning from the Vietnam War, he thought he may not get a chance to fly, and chose to reconsider his path. He transferred to Purdue's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, hoping to get into flight via academics. During his time at Purdue, Gerstenmaier found a great interest in space technology, and chose to focus on this area for his career.
Gerstenmaier graduated with a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering in 1977, and joined the John H. Glenn Research Center in Ohio, beginning his career with NASA. Initially doing research with supersonic wind tunnels, developing air data curve information used during entry on the space shuttle. Gerstenmaier continued his education, obtaining his master's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Toledo in 1981.