Engineering Students, Faculty and Staff to Blast Off

Space Shuttle to Carry Poster Bearing Names of 3,000 From Jonsson School

March 11, 2009

NASA is scheduled to launch the entire faculty, staff and student body of the UT Dallas school of engineering into orbit.

Space shuttles typically carry a crew of just seven, so adding the 3,000 students, faculty and staff of the University’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science would seem to present a formidable engineering challenge.

The additional passengers, however, will be only two-dimensional. Just names on a large poster folded down to 8 by 10 inches.

Shuttles regularly carry aloft a small number of mementos from academic institutions, municipalities and other not-for-profit entities with which astronauts have a connection. In this case astronaut John Phillips offered to take an item from the Jonsson School, where his son Tim is a junior majoring in electrical engineering.

Taking the idea of arriving early for your flight to extremes, the poster had to be delivered to NASA in November, which means the names on it reflect the engineering school’s students, faculty and staff as of October 2008.

Space Shuttle Discovery’s launch has been postponed several times, but after the crew does complete its 14-day mission, Phillips will visit UT Dallas to give a presentation about the mission to students, faculty and staff – and to present the well-traveled poster to Jonsson School Dean Mark Spong.

The STS-119 mission crew will be delivering the final set of solar arrays needed to support the International Space Station's expanded crew of six later this year. The new array will double the amount of power available for scientific research.

“Although we’re not participating directly in this mission,” Dean Spong said, “we’re delighted to be in some small way associated with a mission that will help bolster the amount of research done on the space station.”


Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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UT Dallas in Space


UT Dallas logo as it appears on the shuttle mission poster   Replica of the shuttle mission patch

Above: A UT Dallas logo and a NASA shuttle mission emblem decorate a poster traveling with the Space Shuttle crew.

Below: The full poster bears the names of 3,000 students, faculty and staff members in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

(Click to see a larger version.)

Jonsson School poster that will go with the shuttle

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