(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Aerospace Division recently hosted America’s first female space shuttle commander for a talk to students and faculty members.
Col. Eileen Collins was commander in 1999 on the Columbia space shuttle mission that deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. She also commanded NASA’s 2005 Discovery mission.
“When NASA wanted someone who was cool under pressure, they chose her to command the return to flight mission after the Columbia space shuttle disaster (in 2003),” said Carson Pearce, TSTC’s statewide Transportation Division director. “This kind of insight and perspective gives TSTC students an anchor from which they can realize that someone has dreamed big, achieved that dream, and it motivates our students to do the same.”
Collins shared some facts with the students about space travel, including that space shuttles were about 200 miles above the Earth during missions and the International Space Station is solar powered.
Collins told attendees to focus on the missions they are doing, from completing class assignments to helping expand space travel.
“We need a revolutionary change in how we think about space travel,” she said. “You need to use your imagination, thinking of creative ways to do different things. You should be proud of your accomplishments.”
Collins grew up in New York and received degrees from Corning Community College, Syracuse University, Stanford University and Webster University. She is a U.S. Air Force veteran.
Collins also helped present student awards.
“We have never ceased to be amazed at how our students react to having a real live American hero hand them their hard-earned awards,” said Pearce.
Receiving awards were:
Air Traffic Controller Top Mic Award: Kha Pham
Avionics Technology: Thomas Fletcher
Aircraft Pilot Training Technology Top Gun Award: Stephanie Hughes
Aircraft Dispatch Technology: Eric Neuendorf
Aviation Maintenance Technology Top Wrench Award: Cole Nolin
Student of the Year for Aerospace: Shane Howard
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.