X-STEM Symposium: A Chance to Meet 5 Astronauts
Shawn Wasserman posted on March 03, 2014 |

The X-STEM Symposium is a one-day (April 24th) event to kick off the USA Science and Engineering festival, which runs the following weekend. Both conventions will gather some of the most influential minds of our age.

At X-STEM, professionals from all specialties will chat with elementary and high school students in a format similar to a TED lecture. The aim of the symposium is to get the next generation interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Topics will include the exploration of space, superhero science, math, oceanography, storm chasers, technology of art/music, biology, chemistry, green technology, nanotechnology, nature and more. For more information on X-STEM please follow this link.

Also, if you were like many kids with their eyes to the sky, space exploration was the topic above that caught your eye. Amazingly, the symposium will feature five astronauts, detailed below.

Dr. Kathryn Thornton


Dr. Kathryn Thornton

Dr. Thornton has been an astronaut for over 12 years and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame; however, you might know her as the second woman to walk in space. In her four shuttle missions she spent more than 975 hours in space and traveled 16 million miles in Earth’s orbit.

Currently, Dr. Thornton serves as a professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia where she teaches the course “Introduction to Aerospace Engineering.” She also served as Academic Dean for the Semester at Sea.

Dr. Tom Jones


Dr. Tom Jones

Dr. Jones is a former astronaut that served for 11 years. In that time he orbited the Earth for 53 days in four missions and conducted three space walks to help build the ISS.

Currently, Dr. Jones is an author (Planetology: Unlocking the Secrets of the Solar System), scientist, human flight consultant and professional speaker. He is also an advisor for Planetary Resources, Inc. the company attempting to mine near-Earth asteroids.

Dr. Bernard Harris


Dr. Bernard Harris

Dr. Harris started his career as a physician but eventually parlayed his scientific knowledge to become an astronaut. In his 10 years at NASA he became the first Black American to walk in space. While there he studied musculoskeletal physiology and disuse osteoporosis. This research led him to produce medical devices that allow astronauts to spend more time in space.

Currently, Dr. Harris is president and CEO of Vesalius Ventures, Inc. a venture capital firm that specializes in medical information companies.

Dr. John Mace Grunsfeld


Dr. John Mace Grunsfeld

Perhaps the most experienced astronaut of the bunch; Dr. Grunsfeld spent more than 58 days in space on five missions from 1995 to 2009. His experiences include 58.5 hours on space walks, including three on Hubble. He even spent a mission on Mir! With this track record, it is not surprising that he has also served as NASA’s Chief Scientist.

Currently, Dr. Grunsfeld is the Deputy Director at the Space Telescope Science Institute of Baltimore and a Professor at Johns Hopkins researching astronomy and physics.

Mr. Alvin Drew


Mr. Alvin Drew

Mr. Drew has the distinction of being a member of the last NASA Shuttle crew before its shutdown in 2011. During the mission, Drew performed two spacewalks making him the 200th person to do so. He also started a program called “Story Time in Space” where he read to children from orbit.

Currently, Drew is a retired colonel from the US Air Force where he served for 25 years. He had over 3,000 hours as a Command Pilot, flying over 30 different aircrafts.

Clearly X-STEM is the place to be for any space enthusiast. “Live long and prosper.”

Images and information courtesy of USA Science Festival

NASA Insignia from Wikipedia

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