Astronaut Scholars Foundation selects MSU for prestigious scholarship program

Contact: Allison Matthews

Paromita Mitra, a Bagley College of Engineering graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in aerospace engineering who also earned her bachelor’s degree at MSU, works with NASA helmets to develop new technologies. MSU students studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics now will be eligible for the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s merit-based scholarship providing $10,000 each to outstanding college juniors and seniors. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University students now are eligible for the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s merit-based scholarship providing $10,000 each to outstanding college juniors and seniors. Students should apply during their sophomore or junior year.

MSU is joining 35 other top research universities nationwide and is one of five institutions recently added to the program, ASF leaders recently announced. Selected universities must have strong undergraduate and graduate research programs with histories of producing significant numbers of professional scientists, academic scientists, engineers and researchers. MSU is the only university in Mississippi taking part in the ASF program.

“Mississippi State University has a long history and rich tradition of preparing the leaders of the future in engineering, science and technology,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner. “We appreciate the opportunities that the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is providing our students through this truly innovative program.”

The university will host two astronauts – Charlie Duke and Fred Haise – for an Oct. 11 presentation about their space experiences and celebration of the new MSU partnership. The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. in historic Lee Hall’s Bettersworth Auditorium.

Haise is a Biloxi native, best known as the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 13. With a career logged 9,100 hours of flying time, his awards include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, induction into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, among other accolades. Duke served as Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo16 and explored the moon’s Descartes region during the 1972 mission. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1997.

Astronauts who have participated in U.S. space programs partially support the scholarship program, established in 1984 by six surviving members of Project Mercury who took part in the first human spaceflight program from 1958-1963. In addition to Project Mercury astronauts, support also comes from astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs.

The program aims to help the U.S. retain its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships to the very best and brightest college students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields, also known as STEM fields.

Based in Orlando, Florida, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation annually funds $10,000 scholarships for 45 students.

“We are pleased to welcome Mississippi State University into the Astronaut Scholarship Program,” said Curt Brown, ASF board chairman and an astronaut and veteran of six space flights.

“Its commitment to leadership in science and technology is in keeping with the vision of America’s space pioneers who blazed a trail for the United States and captured the imagination of the world. By participating in this effort, Mississippi State will help the U.S. maintain its leading edge by recognizing and rewarding their best STEM students.”

In addition to MSU, other just-added universities include the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Massachusetts, Colorado State University and Auburn University.

Astronaut scholars chosen to receive the scholarship may attend and present research at one of the signature ASF events, which may include presenting to astronauts, the general public, NASA and industry leaders. These students also may participate in the Innovative Leadership Mentor Program and have an astronaut, executive industry leader or Astronaut Scholar alumni as a mentor. They also will become a member of the Astronaut Scholar Honor Society to build relationships and network with their peers.

For more information, contact Tommy Anderson, director of MSU’s Office of Prestigious External Scholarships at 662-325-2522 or

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Friday, September 8, 2017 - 3:24 pm