Colorado State Hosts Astronaut Ellen Ochoa to Speak at Open Forum on March 26; Community Invited to Attend

Colorado State University welcomes NASA astronaut and Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations Ellen Ochoa to present "NASA Today and in the Future" at an open forum at 7 p.m. on March 26 in the Main Ballroom of the Lory Student Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Colorado State University’s Women and Minorities in Engineering Program, or WMEP, is sponsoring the community forum. Ochoa, an astronaut, mother, classical flutist and private pilot, will also draw upon her experiences in life and science during the address, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

"We are bringing Dr. Ochoa to campus in large part to highlight the benefits of graduate-level education for ethnic minority students and to demonstrate that women can excel in a highly technical field while also having a fulfilling life outside of work," said Benita Phillips, director of WMEP. "However, the entire campus and Fort Collins communities will benefit by hearing Dr. Ochoa’s encouraging message."

Ochoa is a recipient of several NASA awards including the Exceptional Service Medal, Outstanding Leadership Medal, four Space Flight Medals and two Space Act Tech Brief Awards. She has additionally received a variety of other accolades including the Women in Aerospace Outstanding Achievement Award, the Hispanic Engineer Albert Baez Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution to Humanity, the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award and the San Diego State University Alumna of the Year.

Ochoa is a member of the Optical Society of America, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi honor societies. She has presented numerous papers at technical conferences and in scientific journals.

Ochoa received a bachelor of science degree in physics from San Diego State University in 1980 and a master of science degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1981 and 1985, respectively.

As a doctoral student at Stanford and later as a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories and NASA Ames Research Center, Ochoa investigated optical systems for performing information processing. She is a co-inventor on three patents for an optical inspection system, an optical object recognition method and a method for noise removal in images. As Chief of the Intelligent Systems Technology Branch at Ames, she supervised 35 engineers and scientists in the research and development of computational systems for aerospace missions.

Ochoa was selected by NASA in January 1990 and became an astronaut in July 1991. Her technical assignments to date include flight software verification; crew representative for flight software and computer hardware development; crew representative for robotics development, testing and training; and Assistant for Space Station to the Chief of the Astronaut Office. She also has been responsible for directing crew involvement in the development and operation of the Station and was lead spacecraft communicator in Mission Control and Acting Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office.

A veteran of four space flights, Ochoa has logged more than 978 hours in space. She was a mission specialist on ATLAS-2 in 1993, was the Payload Commander on ATLAS-3 in 1994 and was a mission specialist and flight engineer on Discovery in 1999 when the crew performed the first docking to the International Space Station. She also served as a mission flight specialist on Atlantis in 2002.

More detailed information about Ochoa and her NASA experience is available on the Johnson Space Center’s Web site at

While visiting Colorado State, Ochoa also will speak to students at the Women at Noon Series at Colorado State on March 26 and will be meeting with women and minority engineering students throughout the day.

For more information about the open forum or for directions to the event, contact the Women and Minorities in Engineering Program office at (970) 491-4303.