Day 10 – Welcome to the Countdown to Lift off!

We are a group of journalism students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University counting down the days to the anniversary of Alan Shepard's first flight! Follow along on Higher Orbits social media, and here on the blog each day for some stellar space stories, new learning opportunities, and some fun facts that will get you excited to celebrate!

As upperclassmen, we wanted to take this opportunity to recognize some notable Embry-Riddle alumni that have gone on to achieve amazing things in the aerospace world. Their journeys inspire us as we prepare to graduate and take our first steps on our own professional paths. For Countdown Day 10 our alumni spotlight recognizes Astronaut Nicole Stott, and Astronaut Alvin Drew!

Alumni Spotlight

Nicole Stott

Nicole Stott graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with her Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering in 1987. She went on to earn her Master of Science in Engineering Management from the University of Central Florida in 1992.

Stott started her career at NASA as an Operations Engineer in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) at Kennedy Space Center in 1988. Stott held a variety of positions at NASA such as the Shuttle Flow Director for Endeavor, Orbiter Project Engineer for Columbia, and NASA Convoy Commander for shuttle landings. Stott was selected to be a Mission Specialist by NASA for the Astronaut Corps. In April 2006 she served as a crewmember on the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO 9).

NASA Bio Profile Image

Stott made it to space in August 2009 when she launched aboard space shuttle Discovery for STS-128. On that mission, she performed a spacewalk that lasted 6 hours and 39 minutes. She returned to space in 2011 as a Mission Specialist for STS-133. This was the final mission for Space Shuttle Discovery.

As a retired astronaut, Stott uses her time to create artwork inspired by her spaceflights.

Alvin Drew

After obtaining two Bachelor of Science degrees in 1984 from the United States Air Force Academy (B.S. in Astronautical Engineering and B.S. in Physics) Alvin Drew graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1995 with his Master of Aerospace Science. He then went on to earn his Master of Strategic Studies in Political Science in 2006 from the United States Air Force Air University.

Before his time at NASA, Drew served as a Second Lieutenant for the U.S. Air Force. He started as a helicopter rescue pilot and then transitioned into USAF special operations. Throughout Panama, the Persian Gulf, and Northern Iraq he flew 60 combat missions between 1989 and 1992. Drew has piloted 30 different types of aircraft and has over 3,500 hours of flight experience.

NASA Bio Profile Image

Drew was selected by NASA in 2000 as a Mission Specialist. Prior to logging more than 612 hours in space across two Space Shuttle flights (STS-118 and STS-133), he served as the Director of Operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.

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