Growing up in Telluride and attending the Telluride Mountain School, Tucker Hensen knew that he loved science and adventure. Yet, he never imagined that he’d be able to combine those passions and work towards the greatest adventure of our time: to take humans to Mars and beyond. At SpaceX, where he works as a materials engineer, that’s exactly what he’s doing.
Tucker, who speaks three languages (English, German, and Spanish), came to TMS as an 11th-grader after living abroad in Germany. He was looking for opportunities for authentic leadership, challenge and a school that embraced his sense of adventure. TMS was a perfect fit on all fronts, fostering a life-long love for learning.
Following TMS, Tucker went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University. An avid snowboarder, world traveler, and cyclist, Tucker found opportunities for adventure everywhere. In college, he volunteered at a bicycle co-op, where his commitment to service, his problem-solving skills, and his engineering background allowed him to successfully fuse his talents and passions to ensure bicycle access for everyone.
A world traveler and history buff, in his spare time, Tucker finds his way back to Europe to take part in Medieval reenactments. He has traveled throughout Asia, and is looking forward to the next international journey, “Hopefully to get down to New Zealand to hang with my classmate Cisco Fahnestock.”
Reflecting on his experiences at TMS, Tucker says that what has stuck with him was TMS’s example of learning at all times: “Really, it wasn’t just about the classes, but all the experiences. I learned so much from the teachers outside the classroom. I learned to push myself, and think hard, and I learned from my mistakes too.” He reports that calculus was his hardest class, but when asked about his hardest moment, he recounts when, as a new student on a Fall OE trip, his sleeping bag “tumbled a thousand feet down into Yankee Boy Basin and disappeared into the snow in its white garbage bag waterproofing. “A life lesson learned the hard way; it’s worth it to take time and thought to do things right (including packing a backpack) the first time.”
Indeed, he says that these days almost every engineering challenge he works on requires his ability to think both critically and creatively. “We learn most from what doesn’t work, then we redesign and try it again.” When asked how he got the dream job at SpaceX, he says that at TMS, he learned to put himself out there, take chances, and aim big, and that gave him the confidence to apply. And then he corrected- “but it’s not truly my dream job- that would be teaching math and physics at Telluride Mountain School….”
Head of School