NASA astronaut and Le Moyne alumna Jeanette Epps is eager to leave the planet. But before she does, there was something else that she wanted to do – visit her alma mater.
A member of the Class of 1992, Epps recently returned to the Heights, where she was awarded a bachelor’s degree in physics. She went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland, then embarked on a career that has brought her from Ford Motor Co. to the Central Intelligence Agency and, now, NASA. Her work at the administration has included scientific and technical briefings; intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, extravehicular activity and robotics; and flight and water and wilderness survival training. In addition, Epps and her colleagues also became proficient in Russian.
Epps shared her experiences with several current science, engineering and math students on the Heights, telling them that her decision to study physics as an undergraduate helped to set her on this path.
That was the best thing I did before graduate school,” she said. “Even though engineering is different from pure science, my physics degree helped me with my oral defense (of my dissertation).”
As Epps explained to the students, NASA is currently focused utilizing the International Space Station to conduct research for the benefit of everyone on Earth, and on the development of new vehicles to carry people into space.
“There is lots of good research going on in the ISS,” she said. “In fact, that is one of the things that got me interested in the program.”
In the meantime, Epps is continuing to train, including spending time in NASA’s neutral buoyancy lab, and hopes to have her own opportunity to travel to the International Space Station soon.