Friday, September 23, 2011

Hall of Fame Astronaut Delivers Award at the University of Oklahoma

September 22, 2011
Contact: Beth Higdon
E-mail: Beth@AstronautScholarship.org
Phone: 321.455.7013

NORMAN, OKLA. – Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke will present University of Oklahoma (OU) student Bradley Pirtle with a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) during a public presentation and ceremony, September 28, 2011 at 1 p.m. in room 200 of the ExxonMobil Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility at OU.

While there, Duke will share his experiences of walking on the Moon during Apollo 16, in addition to presenting the award. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“Bradley is a clear leader in computer engineering at the University of Oklahoma,” said Duke. “He is a prime example of everything an Astronaut Scholar is supposed to be: intelligent, perseverant and destined for greatness. I am honored to have the opportunity to present this award to such a worthy OU student.”

Pirtle is a senior majoring in computer engineering. Fascinated with robots from a young age, Pirtle quickly transitioned into learning programming languages in his spare time. His current interest is in artificial intelligence with a focus on data mining. In his spare time, Pirtle tutors Calculus students and sharpens his culinary skills. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science, with the hope of being employed by a government agency or laboratory where his work will ultimately better humankind.

The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students based solely on merit. Twenty-six of these prestigious awards were dispersed this year through the ASF to outstanding college students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math. More than $3 million has been awarded in scholarships to date. Since 2005, ASF has distributed $70,000 to Astronaut Scholars at the University of Oklahoma. These high-achieving students exhibit strong drive and phenomenal performance in their field, as well as intellectual daring and a genuine desire to positively change the world around them, both in and out of the classroom.

Duke was among 19 new astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. After serving as a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 13, he was named Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 16, along with Commander John Young and Command Module Pilot T.K. Mattingly. They launched on April 16, 1972, and reached the lunar surface three days later. Duke became the tenth man to walk on the Moon and during three outside excursions, he and Young drove a Lunar Rover 16 miles and collected 213 pounds of lunar rock and soil. Duke retired from NASA in 1975 and was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1997. He currently serves as Chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for college students who exhibit motivation, imagination and exceptional performance in these fields. ASF has awarded over $3 million to deserving students nationwide. Today, more than 80 astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs have joined in this effort. For more information, call 321-455-7013 or log on to www.AstronautScholarship.org.

Created by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a doctoral degree-granting research university serving the educational, cultural, economic and health-care needs of the state, region and nation.  The Norman campus serves as home to all of the university’s academic programs except health-related fields.  The OU Health Sciences Center, which is located in Oklahoma City, is one of only four comprehensive academic health centers in the nation with seven professional colleges.  Both the Norman and Health Sciences Center colleges offer programs at the Schusterman Center, the site of OU-Tulsa.  OU enrolls more than 30,000 students, has more than 2,400 full-time faculty members, and has 21 colleges offering 163 majors at the baccalaureate level, 166 majors at the master’s level, 81 majors at the doctoral level, 27 majors at the doctoral professional level, and 26 graduate certificates.  The university’s annual operating budget is $1.5 billion.  The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution.

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Editor Note: Astronaut interview available upon request or at the presentation with advanced arrangements.

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