Scott Mitchell wasn’t expecting to see his name in a list of Orange County’s 100 most influential people.
“It was a total surprise to me,” Mitchell said when saw his name in the Orange County Register’s list released last week.
After all, Mitchell has only lived in Orange County for two years — moving to southern California when he took the helm of Orange Coast College’s now opened Planetarium.
According to the newspaper, Mitchell was tapped for the list because as manager of OCC’s $23 million planetarium he is “helping teach astronomy and the wonders of the universe to college students, school children and the public with shows in the traditional domed theater and other exhibits and programs.”
Mitchell joins such other luminaries as Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), Los Amigos High School graduate and current secretary of state Mike Pompeo and surfer and coach Brett Simpson.
The Planetarium opened in May and is a place for students to learn about astronomy through hands-on activities. As its director, Mitchell has been able to teach an assortment of students.
This semester, Mitchell said he has over 70 field trips coming to tour the planetarium. With each trip, Mitchell is able to teach children about astronomy.
The goal is to “influence them to have a love for science and astronomy,” he said.
In addition to teaching he has also created opportunities for students. He currently has 10 student staff members helping oversee the Planetarium. They help give tours and teach about the facility.
“I can give these students experience in public speaking,” Mitchell said, adding that he is helping pave the way for their futures by giving them hands-on experiences. He wants these students to succeed in the future and he knows this is a great start.
Mitchell is originally from Maine where he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in physics and his master’s degree in aerospace engineering. He moved to Orange County as he was finishing his masters to oversee the opening of the Planetarium.
“The community has high hopes for the facility and I want to bring in thousands of kids to visit every year,” Mitchell said.