Former Astronaut and NASA Official to Speak at Michigan Tech Commencement May 3

Leland D. Melvin, former astronaut and associate administrator for education at NASA, will be the featured speaker at Michigan Technological University’s Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 3.

At commencement, the University will honor the achievements of nearly 1,000 graduates, including 747 students receiving bachelor’s degrees, 203 master’s degree candidates and 38 PhD graduates.

Melvin was responsible for NASA’s education programs, strengthening awareness of the agency’s scientific goals and missions. He traveled across the country talking about space exploration with teachers and students, using NASA’s unique mission to promote interest in STEM education.

Melvin began his NASA career in 1989 as an aerospace research engineer and entered NASA’s astronaut corps in 1998, operating the robotic arm on two space shuttle missions to the International Space Station.

He serves on the White House National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education, or CoSTEM. CoSTEM coordinates STEM education and programs for all federal agencies, encourages the teaching of innovation and entrepreneurship, and develops and implements a five-year STEM education strategy for all federal agencies. He was the US representative on the International Space Education Board, a collaboration among NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Centre National d’Études Spatiales.

Melvin earned a BS in Chemistry from the University of Richmond, where he excelled as a wide receiver. He was an NCAA Division I Academic All-American and was inducted into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Injuries sidelined his professional football career, and he went on to earn his MS in Materials Science Engineering from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.