Dr Bonnie J Dunbar, retired NASA space shuttle astronaut, former president and chief executive officer of The Museum of Flight in Seattle and now president and CEO of her own consulting company, is visiting Heriot-Watt University this week to promote science and technology studies, especially for young women.
Young women may not think that studying science, engineering or mathematics sounds very exciting, but just such studies have given me a career which has taken me all over the world and literally out of this world
A veteran of five space flights, including two visits to the Russian space station Mir, she has logged fifty days in space, travelling over twenty million miles. While she can't promise all young aspiring students such exciting careers, she has no doubt of the potential benefits of studying and working in science, engineering and technology.
"Young people, and particularly young women, may not think that studying science, engineering or mathematics sounds very exciting. But just such studies have given me a career which has taken me all over the world and literally out of this world. I want to encourage others to give themselves the same opportunities, as well as helping them to understand the workings of the world in which they live."
Dr Dunbar's visit to Edinburgh includes workshops with school pupils from around central Scotland at Heriot-Watt, where she was awarded an honorary degree in 2000. They will offer young women, who already show an interest in science at school, the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of science, engineering and technology (SET) subjects and in particular the types of SET that play a role in getting us into space.
Activities will include our interactive astrochemistry 'Stars R Us!' exhibit as well as a Robot Challenge and an Energy Challenge. Throughout their time on campus the pupils will receive encouragement from staff and female students which could help shape their subject choices for S3 and we hope inspire them throughout their years at school and beyond into their chosen careers.
Inspiring young people
It's a real pleasure and an inspiration to have Dr Dunbar visit us again
Professor Steve Chapman, Principal at Heriot-Watt University said, "It's a real pleasure and an inspiration to have Dr Dunbar visit us again. I am a great admirer of her work and the enormous effort she puts in to inspire young people, and particularly young women, to consider the benefits of a career in science, engineering and technology.
"We hope that she will continue her relationship with Heriot-Watt and with Scotland generally, and that she will honour us with another visit soon."