NASA astronaut Bonnie Dunbar conducts seminars for students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering, along with the Advance Center for Women Faculty, invited Dr. Bonnie Dunbar to conduct two seminars at Texas A&M University.

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Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar

Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar is the M. D. Anderson Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Houston. She also serves as the Director of the university’s ‘STEM Center’ and Director of the Cullen College of Engineering Aerospace Graduate Program.  Dr. Dunbar has worked for Rockwell International Space Division, building Space Shuttle Columbia, and has worked for NASA for 27 years, as a Flight Controller as well as a Mission Specialist Astronaut, where she flew five space shuttle flights logging more than 50 days in space. 

In addition to her flight career, she was a member of the Senior Executive Service. Her service included Assistant JSC Director, University Research; Deputy Director, Flight Crew Operations; and NASA Headquarters Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications (OLMSA). After retiring from NASA, she became President and CEO of The Seattle Museum of Flight. Dr. Dunbar consulted in aerospace and STEM education as the President of Dunbar International LLC, and is an internationally known public speaker. 

Dunbar holds BS. and MS. degrees in Ceramic Engineering from the University of Washington, and a PhD. in Mechanical/Biomedical Engineering from the University of Houston.  She is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.  She has been awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal five times, the NASA Exceptional Leadership Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.  Dr. Dunbar was inducted into the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in 2002 was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering. In 2013, she was selected into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

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Dr. William Schneider, host of the seminar, introduces Dr. Bonnie Dunbar

In her seminar titled, ‘Personal Observations: The Journey of a Cowgirl to Space and Back’, Dr. Dunbar shared some of the lessons she learned in her journey from growing up in a ranch to becoming an engineer and a NASA Astronaut.

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Dr. Dunbar shares some photos from the International Space Station

For the MEEN 681 Graduate seminar class conducted by Dr. Alan Palazzolo, Dr. Dunbar presented a seminar titled ‘Exploration of Space: The Rewards and the Technical Challenges’, in which she shared her history as an engineer working on the Space Shuttle Columbia in California’s Edwards AFB during the 1970’s, her flight career as a NASA astronaut, and her observations on the future of space exploration in the 21st century, both global and in the US. She discussed some of the most significant technological challenges for a human mission to Mars, as documented by the NAE reports, and the preparedness of the Unites States to solve them.