Christine Reilly, a senior aerospace engineering major, has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF).
Reilly will be presented the award by Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden during a ceremony at noon Tuesday, Oct. 24, in Andrews Hall. Worden will also give a presentation highlighting his adventures in space. The event is free and open to the public.
"I first became interested in space watching science fiction shows with my dad as a kid," Reilly said. "Winning the Astronaut Scholarship provides me with a network of amazing peers and the chance to follow the legacy of the astronauts by doing something meaningful for humanity."
Reilly has worked for two years in the Autonomous Vehicle Systems Lab on campus where she models electrostatic spacecraft interactions. She has also interned as a propulsion engineer, helping increase access to space.
“The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has selected an outstanding student to receive this honor," said Bobby Braun, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. "Christine’s drive and passion for science and technology exemplify what it means to be a CU Boulder engineer.”
The merit-based ASF scholarship is the largest known monetary award of its kind given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students. The Mercury 7 astronauts, including Boulder native Scott Carpenter, who died in 2013, created the foundation in 1984. The purpose was to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships to the brightest college students pursuing these degrees. Reilly's Astronaut Scholarship Foundation scholarship is sponsored by Jill and Steve Wirth in memory of Scott Carpenter.
The Mercury 7 astronauts have since been joined by more than 100 astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs who use their joint credibility to encourage students to pursue scientific endeavors to keep the U.S. a leader in technology.
More than $4 million has been awarded in ASF scholarships to date, and Reilly marks the 21st CU Boulder recipient. Since 1995 and including this year’s recipients, $210,000 of that amount has been disbursed to CU Boulder undergraduates, according to Deborah Viles, director of CU Boulder’s Top Scholarships office.
Reilly plans to get a master’s degree in aerospace engineering and then work to advance the future of space exploration.
"I hope that my work will help make my dream job, starship chief engineer, become a real career for the kids of the future," she said.
CU Boulder sophomores and juniors currently engaged in research and majoring in math, science or engineering and seeking nomination for an ASF scholarship should email Deborah Viles at firstname.lastname@example.org.