Astronaut Daniel Brandenstein has spent more than 789 hours in space and flown four shuttle missions, including the maiden voyage of the Endeavor.
His next mission brings him to the University of Minnesota campus, where he’ll hand out two $10,000 scholarships Thursday.
Mathematics and physics major Matthew Coudron and chemical engineering major Scott Isaacson will receive their scholarships based on academic merit, beating out about 30 other applicants . Coudron and Isaacson were also invited to visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Florida.
“I’m of course honored,” Isaacson said. “It’s a selective award and it’s also a good deal of money which helps out … [it] makes my tuition bill a little smaller.”
Half of the $20,000 came from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation , which has been awarding scholarships since 1986 and funds the largest undergraduate science and engineering award in the U.S. Brandenstein is currently serving on its board of directors.
The University's Office of the President matched ASF’s funding to provide an additional scholarship.
“These are really outstanding students … who will be successful in their fields,” said professor Segre Rudaz , who is also director of the University Honors Program and chair to the local committee that nominates students to the ASF .
Brandenstein is from Watertown, Wisc. and took his first shuttle mission in 1983 as pilot aboard Challenger mission STS-8.
Following his time in space, Brandenstein served as chief of NASA's Astronaut Office from 1987 to 1992 and earned numerous honors, including being inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2003.
“It’ll be interesting to talk to [Brandenstein],” Isaacson said. “I’m interested in that kind of stuff, so I really like learning about NASA history and just space exploration.”
Brandenstein will speak and present the scholarships Thursday at 12:35 p.m. in Coffman Union.