On November 7, 2017, former astronaut Daniel Brandenstein visited the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities to award Astronaut Scholarships to two undergraduate students, Merrick Pierson Smela and Rahul Parhi. The scholarship was created in 1985 by the Mercury 7 astronauts to encourage the study of science and engineering. These scholarships are awarded to students at universities with historic ties to the U.S. space program who demonstrate leadership, imagination, and academic excellence in STEM.
The Astronaut Scholarship is a prestigious, competitive award granted annually to outstanding sophomores and juniors who plan to pursue research-oriented careers in mathematics, engineering, and the natural and applied sciences. The scholarship awards up to $10,000 for a year of undergraduate study, and additionally provides recipients with mentoring and professional development support.
Mr. Brandenstein also visited with the U of MN’s SmallSat team to view their current progress on constructing a small satellite to collect x-ray data for solar research purposes.