Former NASA Space Shuttle commander to speak at university

February 13, 2017

PLATTEVILLE, Wis.— Former NASA astronaut Eileen Collins, the first female to pilot and command space shuttle missions, will speak at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville on Tuesday, March 28. Also a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, Collins has led an inspiring life of adventure, leadership and achievement. She will share her experiences with students, faculty, staff and the community during a free, hour-long presentation.

“When selecting a distinguished lecturer, we ask the campus to vote,” said Valerie Wetzel, Markee assistant director—involvement. “Eileen Collins was the number one choice.”

Collins became NASA’s first female shuttle pilot in 1995 and the first female to command a shuttle mission in 1999. In 2005, she served as commander of the historic “Return to Flight” mission, the first manned flight following the Columbia accident two years earlier. Altogether, Collins has logged over 6,751 hours in 30 different types of aircraft.

“She has a compelling story,” said Wetzel. “It’s a nod to what women can do in science, math and technology.”

The event will take place at 9:30 a.m. in the Williams Fieldhouse. Collins will speak for an hour, followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer session. After the presentation, Collins will be at the Markee Pioneer Student Center Heritage Hall for an autograph session at 11:30 a.m.

All classes, labs, lessons and campus activities are canceled that day from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

“The distinguished lecturer program is an awesome opportunity for the campus to learn together as a community about a topic that is relevant,” said Wetzel. “Earlier this summer, Collins spoke at the Republican National Convention about the need to get NASA back in the space race. And right now with the SpaceX program and the idea of trying to go to Mars, it will be great to learn about these different things and hear her thoughts.”

The Distinguished Lecturer is sponsored by the Pioneer Involvement Center and supported by the Segregated University Fee Allocation Commission and the Wilgus Fund.

Written by: Laura Janisch, Communications, 608-342-1194,


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