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Astronaut Dunbar Inspires Students At Course III Talk

By Orli G. Bahcall
staff RepORTER

NASA Mission Specialist Bonnie J. Dunbar spoke in Room 10-250 on Wednesday as part of the annual Wulff lecture sponsored by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Dunbar is a veteran of four shuttle missions and has logged over 1,000 hours in space.

The talk is "intended primarily for freshmen and undesignated sophomores" to advertise the department, said Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Chris E. Scott.

"We hope that you see the excitement in the materials science department," said Professor Edwin L. Thomas, co-head of the department. "We hope you enjoy today's lecture and think about joining the department."

The Wulff lecture is held annually in honor of the late Professor of Materials Science and Engineering John T. Wulff '41.

Students are future space leaders

"I think that you here are the leaders of the future," Dunbar said. "You are the ones who will take us past the moon to Mars."

"I am a firm believer that in order to chart a path to the future we must look at history," Dunbar said.

The first stop Dunbar made in her "journey through space and science" was witnessing the first moon landing. "I can remember exactly where I was and what I was thinking."

More recently, Dunbar has taken part in a number of NASA missions. This summer she participated in a successful mission to dock with the Russian space station Mir. Dunbar shared a video of the mission's highlights.

Dunbar finished her talk with a glimpse into the future of space exploration. Future projects may include an international space station and a mission to Mars, she said.

Dunbar encourages students

Dunbar shared her thoughts with students interested in pursuing a career with NASA.

"NASAcontinues to recruit astronauts. Just pick what you like to do, and put in your application quickly," she said.

"You are the best and the brightest -- we would be happy to hear from you if you are interested."

"We do need new people, so if you are at all interested ... after you graduate, send your application directly to me, and I will make sure it gets to the right place," Dunbar said.

Dunbar fielded several questions from the audience. In response to one question about federal budget cuts to space exploration, Dunbar said "most people do not realize that in fact as a nation we spend more on pizza and potato chips than on space exploration, which is only 1 percent of the budget."

Freshmen find talk informative

A number of freshmen who attended the talk found it interesting and informative.

"I am not sure of my major, and this helped me to see what Course III was about," said Tyra E. Rivkin '99.

"I didn't realize how much materials research was done in space" Stephanie Sharo '99 said. "This got me really excited to start a career in astronautics."