Terps are often considered stellar students, but recent news about Jeanette Epps becoming a member of Expedition 56 to the International Space Station in 2018 really takes things to a new level.
After completing her undergrad at LeMoyne college in 1992, Epps received her Master’s of Science and Ph.D. (both in aerospace engineering) from UMD in 1994 and 2000, respectively. After graduate school, she worked with Ford Motor Company and later the CIA. Dr. Epps was selected as an astronaut in 2009.
Her participation in the expedition reserves her the honor of being the first African-American female to crew the International Space Station. The announcement of this momentous accomplishment came on the tail of the release of the movie Hidden Figures, a story about a talented group of African-American women tasked with the calculation of the trajectory of John Glenn’s orbit in space. Fun fact, John Glenn is involved in a bit of UMD history himself. Learn more about the connection here.
Though she is the most recent, Jeanette Epps is not the only astronaut to attend UMD. Judith Resnik, one of the astronauts who perished in the Challenger explosion, received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1977.William “Willie” McCool, who died aboard the space shuttle Columbia, received his master’s degree in computer science from UMD in 1985. Paul Richards, a 1991 graduate with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, participated in the Discovery mission to the International Space Station. Richard “Ricky” Arnold II got his master’s in Marine Biology from UMD in 1992. He was selected as a member of the 2004 class of astronaut recruits, and his first journey into space was aboard the space shuttle Discovery, on a February 2009 mission to the International Space Station.
The University of Maryland can truly be proud of our Terps in space throughout the years. We congratulate Dr. Jeanette Epps on her new assignment, and we wish her well as she takes her place among the stars!