But for the NASA administrator visiting Arab High School on Friday, Jim Bridenstine wanted to make everyone his friend as he leads an effort to return Americans to the moon in 2024.
He visited with pre-engineering students at the school about 30 miles south of Huntsville, marveled at the competition moon buggy they had built – and rebuilt, they told the space boss, especially for his visit.
He watched a demonstration of a robot built in a six-week, after-school crash program earlier this year by the school's robotics students – a robot that competed in the world championships in Houston in April.
But as he encouraged students to keep an eye on the space program as a possible career, maybe he wondered if there was some young brainpower in the room that would someday help make a visit to Mars a reality.
"I've heard wonderful things about this high school," Bridenstine said as he spoke to students and school administrators.
He asked students a series of questions about the construction of the moon buggy and saluted the robotics program for bringing real-world projects into the classroom.
And in speaking to about 50 students in the school's media center following his campus tour, Bridenstine said, "There is no shortage of opportunity for the folks in this room."