Astronaut Scott Carpenter to present senior with $10,000 scholarship

University Park, Pa. -- Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter will present senior Tyler McCandless with a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) during a public presentation and ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18 in 22 Deike Building on Penn State's University Park campus. The award ceremony will coincide with a presentation by Carpenter during which he will share his experiences as an original Mercury 7 astronaut and what it was like to be the second American to orbit the Earth. Carpenter’s lecture will be the keynote address at a special symposium, "The Earth -- Within and Beyond."

After Carpenter's lecture, beginning at 2 p.m., professors in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences who are experts in the fields of earth and atmospheric science will provide insights into the world around and above us: Lee R. Kump will highlight “Interactions Between the Geosphere and the Hydrosphere,” Katherine Freeman will explain the “Role of the Hydrosphere in Sustaining Life in the Biosphere,” Jenni L. Evans will reveal the secrets to “Understanding the Atmosphere: Making Intelligent Weather Forecasts,” and James Kasting will wrap up the afternoon with “How to Find a Habitable Planet.” A festive reception will follow at 4 p.m. adjacent to the venue.

The event is open to the public and tickets are free. They are available beginning at 8 a.m. on Sept. 8 in 14 Deike Building. There is a limit of two tickets per person.

The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students based solely on merit. Seventeen of these prestigious awards were dispersed this year through the ASF to outstanding college students majoring in science, engineering or math. Over $2.8 million has been awarded in scholarships to date. These well-rounded students exhibit motivation, imagination and intellectual daring, as well as exceptional performance, both in and outside the classroom.

“Students like Tyler [McCandless] are the pioneers of our future,” said Carpenter. “He will forever be a distinguished member of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s elite group of Astronaut Scholars. Our scholars have gone on to work with the Hubble telescope discovering the furthest galaxy documented to date, helped design several of the world’s most prestigious fighter jets, have been named as some of the top 50 technical leaders of Scientific America and much more.”

McCandless will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology in conjunction with his Master’s degree in May, 2010 and plans to pursue a doctorate shortly there after. He has completed five professional presentations and has submitted a paper to the Journal of Weather and Forecasting. McCandless is particularly interested in winter forecasts and using a variety of statistical techniques and artificial intelligence methods to improve forecasting. In addition, he is captain of the Penn State cross country team and recently received the Big Ten Conference Sportsmanship award.

Carpenter was selected as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts in 1959. He flew the second American orbital flight in a Mercury capsule on May 24, 1962, and he piloted the Aurora 7 spacecraft through three revolutions of Earth, reaching a maximum altitude of 164 miles. He later served as an aquanaut aboard SEALAB, giving him the distinction of being the first human being to conduct missions in both outer- and inner-space.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is a non-profit organization established by the Mercury Astronauts in 1984. Its goal is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for exceptional college students pursuing degrees in these fields. Today, more than 80 astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs have joined in this educational endeavor. For more information, call (321) 455-7015 or visit online.

Last Updated September 03, 2009