NASA astronaut: ‘What IF We Lead an International Collaboration in Space Exploration?’

NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa, who directed the Johnson Space Center, will speak at Purdue University on Sept. 26.

The space center’s first Hispanic director, Ochoa is its second female director. Open to the public, her talk will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the South Ballroom of the Purdue Memorial Union. Free tickets are available here.

The event is titled “An evening with Ellen Ochoa.” It is a part of Purdue’s Ideas Festival, the centerpiece of the university’s Giant Leaps sesquicentennial campaign, which is a series of events that connect world-renowned speakers and Purdue expertise in a conversation on the most critical problems facing the world. Ochoa’s question, “What IF We Lead an International Collaboration in Space Exploration?” dives into one of the Ideas Festival’s themes, space exploration.

Ellen OchoaOchoa joined NASA in 1988 as a research engineer at Ames Research Center and moved to Johnson Space Center in 1990 when she was selected to become an astronaut. She became the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on the nine-day mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She has flown in space four times, logging nearly 1,000 hours, leading onboard scientific activities and serving as flight engineer during the launch, rendezvous and entry phases of the missions.

Ochoa investigated optical systems for performing information processing as a research engineer at Sandia National Laboratories and Ames. She is a co-inventor on three patents for optical systems and author of several technical papers.

She is the vice chair of the National Science Board and chairs the Nomination Evaluation Committee of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. She has served on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas board and the Stanford University board of trustees. She is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors, the Latino Corporate Directors Association and WomenCorporateDirectors.

Ochoa has been recognized with NASA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for senior executives in the federal government. She was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University among others. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the National Academy of Inventors.

There are six schools named in her honor, and she is the subject of several books.

Born in California, Ochoa earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from San Diego State University and a master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford.

Co-sponsors for the event are Purdue’s Latino Cultural Center, Purdue Polytechnic Institute, Women in Engineering,  Minority Engineering Program, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the Honors College.

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