A man with a plan

Michael Bouchard has his future carefully planned. Photo by B.A. Rupert

Michael Bouchard has a 15-year plan for personal success. Photo by B.A. Rupert

Do you know where you will be five years from now? How about 10 years from now? Michael Bouchard does. He has a 15-year plan for personal success and has carefully outlined every step required to get him there.

Watch the video:

“I love to plan. I love to make lists,” says Bouchard, a senior in geology and geophysics from Ballwin, Mo. “Some people shy away from the future. I run toward it with vigor.”

A self-proclaimed “band geek,” he chose Missouri S&T because he immediately fit in.

“There is a freedom here, too,” Bouchard says. “You have the chance to remake yourself exactly how you want to be, and really take control of your life and your future.”

Bouchard loves the variety of opportunities available to him at Missouri S&T. He plays trumpet in the marching band and is active in Fencing Club and National Residence Hall Honorary, among others. Last year, he played Charlie Bucket in the S&T theater production Willy Wonka. He is one class away from completing a minor in Russian.

“It’s not a matter of what can I do, but what do I have time to do!”

Bouchard works with John Hogan, associate professor of geological sciences and engineering, to research the mysteries of bizarre dome-like structures in Egypt’s Afar Desert using satellite imagery. Called “desert eyes,” these structures make the terrain look like bubble wrap, he says.

“The eyes are structural domes, but are often topographically flat,” Bouchard explains. “If you didn’t know they were there, you could walk right by them. However, when viewed from space, they create some truly incredible pictures.”

Bouchard’s love of space fits into his plan in other ways, too.

Hanging on Bouchard’s wall is a 176-goal flow chart he hopes will lead the Mars Rover Design Team to success. Bouchard is CEO of the group he co-founded with 15 friends last fall. The team — the newest group to be included in the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center — is designing and building a remote-controlled vehicle capable of traversing the red, rocky terrain of Mars. The team will take part in a summer 2013 competition sponsored by The Mars Society.

This summer, he is applying his knowledge and experience at an internship with Johnson Space Center in Houston. He’ll be working for NASA advisors in conjunction with the Lunar and Planetary Institute on prototype rover development and testing — work that’s right up his alley.

“I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned this year and apply it at my internship,” Bouchard says. “Then I can take what I learn this summer and bring it back to the team for next year.”

Ultimately, Bouchard wants to be an astronaut. Until then, he plans to spend four years in college, five years working in the field of exploration geology and six years working on a Ph.D. in planetary geology — the study of other planets.

“I have high goals and it will take a lot of hard work and dedication to get there,” Bouchard says. “And a plan.”

But if things don’t work out the way he plans, he’s all right with that, too. In fact, he’s on version 12 of his four-year college course plan.

“I have had to learn that while it is okay to have plans, you must still be flexible,” he says. “Plans help you have a direction, but they must be realistic, flexible and true to you.”

by Mary Helen Stoltz

A version of this story originally appeared in Missouri S&T Magazine.

Read additional stories from the Spring 2013 issue.


  1. Irina Ivliyeva says

    You rock, Michael! It is priviledge to be your professor!
    Dr. Irina Ivliyeva

  2. I like this dude he’s smart guy

  3. Yousf Albozidi says

    Outcomes of Missouri S&T always are the best, smart students and a high level of academic staff.

  4. Daniel S. says

    You’re such a stud, Michael!