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Engineering a Better Tomorrow

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September 5, 2012

Hall of Fame Astronaut to Honor NC State Student at Public Presentation

  - from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

RALEIGH, N.C. Space Shuttle astronaut Kathryn Thornton will present North Carolina State University engineering student Andrew Santos with a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) during a public presentation and ceremony at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 10 in the Witherspoon Student Center, Room 126, on the NC State Main Campus.

During the visit, Thornton will share her experiences from four space shuttle missions in addition to presenting the award. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“Andrew has demonstrated quality leadership in chemical engineering at North Carolina State University,” said Thornton. “He embodies the top characteristics of an Astronaut Scholar: intelligent, perseverant and driven to lead the path toward the advancement of scientific knowledge and technology. I’m proud to have the opportunity to present this award to such a worthy recipient at NC State.”

Santos is a rising senior majoring in chemical engineering with a 4.0 GPA. His past research abroad at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, was a steered molecular dynamics (SMD) project involving dehaloperoxidase. Currently he is working with a research group at NC State to simulate methane in nanoporous activated carbon structures. In the future he plans to apply his studies to the area of environmental preservation, particularly the reduction of water pollution and improvement of energy storage and conversion.

The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) undergraduate college students based solely on merit. Twenty-two of these prestigious scholarships were dispersed this year by ASF to outstanding college students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math. Nearly $3.5 million has been awarded to date. Since 1986, $219,000 has been disbursed to NC State students. These high-achieving students exhibit strong drive and phenomenal performance in their field, as well as intellectual daring and a genuine desire to positively change the world around them, both in and out of the classroom.

Thornton flew four Space Shuttle missions during her 12 years in the Astronaut Corps. She first flew as mission specialist aboard STS-33 and again aboard the maiden flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, STS-49. In 1993, she served as mission specialist aboard the first Hubble Space Telescope (HST) repair mission, STS-61. For her final mission, she served as payload commander of STS-73. Currently, she serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs in the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science. Thornton was inducted into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010 and is an active member of the ASF.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1984 by the six surviving members of America’s original Mercury astronauts. Its mission is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for college students who exhibit motivation, imagination and exceptional performance in these fields. ASF funds twenty-eight $10,000 scholarships annually and has awarded nearly $3.5 million to deserving students nationwide.  Today, more than 100 astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs have joined in this educational endeavor. For more information, call 321-455-7012 or log on to www.AstronautScholarship.org.


Editor Note: Astronaut interview available upon request or at the presentation with advanced arrangements.

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