Lunar Lion team leader Michael Paul named '14 Homecoming honorary grand marshal

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Homecoming executive committee named Michael Paul, team leader of the Penn State Lunar Lion team, the 2014 Penn State Homecoming honorary grand marshal on Wednesday (April 16) during the fourth annual Legacy Celebration.

"I was thrilled when I found out," Paul said. "Even though I did not graduate from Penn State, I have felt an intense sense of family since joining this University."

Paul, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and formerly a part of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory from 2000 to 2008, served as the spacecraft systems engineer for NASA's "MESSENGER Mission to Mercury." Paul has served as the director of space systems initiatives for Penn State's Applied Research Laboratory since 2009.

Paul is leading more than 100 students in the Lunar Lion mission, trying to become the first university to put a lander on the moon and win the Google Lunar X Prize Competition of $30 million.

When Paul and his wife moved to State College five years ago, he felt a "desire to serve and learn from the Penn State community." For the Lunar Lion mission, Paul leads students from a variety of majors at the University and he is excited to continue working with them on this project while representing the community.  

The process of selecting this year's honorary grand marshal began during winter break this past December. Homecoming 2014 Alumni Relations Director Madison Benfield compiled a list of individuals who embodied Penn State and had characteristics such as giving back and serving the community. Once the list was made, Benfield presented the list to the Homecoming Executive Committee, and a vote took place.

The honorary grand marshal is usually someone who the Penn State community will recognize. "The honorary grand marshal is a figurehead of Homecoming," Benfield said. "We believe that Mr. Paul is perfect for this role because he really embodies the spirit of Penn State."

The announcement was made at the fourth Legacy Celebration Wednesday in the HUB-Robeson Center. Intended to raise school spirit and get students excited for Homecoming in the fall, the annual celebration also featured the cutting of the Legacy Celebration cake, performances by student dance groups, a Penn State trivia show, a Homecoming fashion show, float pomping and a visit by the Nittany Lion.

Penn State’s 2014 Homecoming is scheduled for the week of Sept. 20 to Sept. 27. Visit http://homecoming.psu.edu for more information.

Last Updated April 21, 2014