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A&A mourns the passing of Nathan Precup (MSAA '18)

Drew Deguchi
November 23, 2022

Nathan Precup

Nathan Precup

A&A is saddened to learn of the death of alumnus Nathan Precup (BSAA 2011 and MSAA 2018) during the test flight for Raisbeck Engineering that crashed in Snohomish County on Friday, November 18. Nathan, also a former student crew member and Operations Manager of the Kirsten Wind Tunnel (KWT) spanning from 2008-2017, had just finished replacing the KWT’s Test Control and Acquisition Module (TCAM) software in October through his work at QuickSilver Aerospace, where he was an instrumentation engineer.

In 2018, Nathan graduated from A&A and moved on to become a Senior Researcher at the University of Minnesota. Here, he worked on the BICEP (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) Array microwave telescope.

Nathan Precup

Nathan Precup in a well-known photo to the KWT staff.

In November 2019, Nathan deployed to the South Pole to install the BICEP Array, which scans for gravitational waves in hopes of providing insight into how the universe began. Nathan lived in the up to minus-100 degree weather for over a year, with a small community of around 40 people. His job was to monitor and operate the telescope, trekking a kilometer from the station everyday.

When asked what lured him to the dark Antarctic winter, Nathan answered, "I wanted to explore my comfort zone and see if I could step away from all the things that I’m used to having – green landscapes, places to hike, the ocean – and still be content and happy." In his free time at the South Pole, Nathan took photos, enjoyed the starry sky, read, and spent time with his fellow “winterovers.”

Group photo of KWT staff members

Nathan (purple shirt, center) with his KWT staff cohort, circa 2011.

Nathan enjoyed adventuring; his hobbies ranged from hiking, climbing, scuba diving, sailing, and photography.

KWT's business manager Cara Winter said, "Through his work at KWT, Nathan influenced the lives and careers of many A&A students over the years. He was patient and thoughtful in both his technical work and his role as a mentor to the KWT crew. He will be missed beyond measure."

If you have memories of Nathan that you would like to share with his family, please send them to