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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Faculty & Staff

Retired astronaut lands at UH

President Renu Khator invited former NASA engineer and UH alumna Bonnie Dunbar to join the faculty at UH. Dunbar will lead the science, technology, engineering and math program, propelling the University into a new phase of science and research.


The STEM center will be one of 160 on university campuses and will specialize in research, using surrounding facilities and scientists housed in the Texas Medical Center and NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Dunbar values the importance of STEM education programs and before her years at NASA, she had her own consulting company, Dunbar International LLC, in which she worked to expand kindergarten through 12th grade science education.

“Developing a pipeline for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics will play a major role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy and is a critical component to helping our nation win the future,” Dunbar said in an article for UH.

She founded the Washington Aerospace Scholars program for students in their junior year of high school and grew the STEM programs of the Seattle Museum of Flight, of which she was president and CEO.

In addition to her history of promoting education, Dunbar’s experience with NASA will give her lectures an edge amongst other lectures: producing a mix of theory and reality.

In her 27 years at NASA, she was a part of five space flights and spent more than 1,208 hours in space.

“I will be developing a new undergraduate course designed to inspire and retain our engineering undergraduate students — it will explore with them how engineering has transformed our lives throughout history and will be presented through the lens of aerospace and space exploration,” Dunbar said.

“We may offer it to all undergraduates to help them better understand how math, science, and engineering are important to developing the technologies surrounding them every day and solving many of society’s ‘grand challenges’ — from communication and transportation, to the environment and even social problems as well.”

Dunbar completed her undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Washington and gained her doctorate degree at UH.

Students are already interested in taking her classes, such as mechanical engineering junior Brittney Baker.

“I think that Dr. Dunbar coming to UH is an amazing opportunity for UH students: both STEM majors and otherwise. As a female engineering major who is interested in NASA and space exploration, it would be a dream come true to be able to take her class,” Baker said.

“I think that giving students a better understanding of the aerospace field and its applications to the modern workplace is going to be very beneficial for those students interested in space exploration.“

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