University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
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Astronaut Scholarship Philosophy and Procedures


Astronaut Scholarship Foundation


Applicable to nominations for the Astronaut Foundation Scholarships, 2011-2012.


History: The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was created from the Mercury Seven Foundation that was formed in 1984 by the original class of American astronauts. In the beginning, the Mercury Seven Foundation depended largely on direct contributions resulting from the activities of the Founders. The Astronauts remain strongly committed to the Foundation and participate actively in building the best possible program dedicated to encouragement of outstanding young Americans to pursue careers in science and engineering, especially in fields with strong research and applied components. Just as they were pioneers in space, the Founders wished to encourage and nurture potential pioneers in all aspects of science and technology. The Mercury Seven have been joined in this endeavor by the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Shuttle astronauts to make the Foundation a true legacy of America’s space pioneers.


Institution selection: Identification of America's finest and potentially most creative and productive young science students is a challenging undertaking. Thus, it was decided early on to select institutions having strong undergraduate and graduate research programs with histories of producing significant numbers of professional scientists, academic scientists, engineers and researchers. Because it is impossible to predict the disciplines where cutting edge research is going to be, we seek nominations from all fields of science and technology.


Scholarship application process: Students may not apply directly for an Astronaut Scholarship Foundation award. A student must be nominated by a faculty member who knows the student well enough to identify a special drive or talent that foreshadows a creative career leading to advancement of scientific knowledge and technology. Accordingly, nominees must have proven themselves by both their academic and research achievements as full time undergraduate students at the nominating institution. Actual research accomplishments should be highlighted in student applications. Qualified undergraduates who have completed two years of full time study on the designated campus may receive scholarships for their junior and/or senior year. However, since the scholarship application must be submitted during the second semester of the year prior to the start of the scholarship, sophomores nominated to receive the scholarship as juniors must demonstrate truly exceptional accomplishments during their first three semesters to be considered. An awarded scholarship may not be transferred to another degree program or institution. We require that all nominees be American citizens.


Scholarship renewal: A student receiving an Astronaut Foundation scholarship may have the scholarship continued to completion of the undergraduate degree program for which the award was made with a normal maximum of two awards. Renewal is based upon continued excellence in academics and research, as documented by the required reports. These are a current transcript documenting satisfactory performance and a letter report from the scholar directly and from the supervising professor after conclusion of the first term. Because a single scholarship resides on a campus at any one time, formal nominations are requested only when a new scholar must be named.


Astronaut scholar alumni: Being selected as an Astronaut Scholar is the beginning of a life-long bond with the Foundation and other Astronaut Scholars. Past scholars, now over 250, representing all scientific and technological fields, have joined the Astronaut Scholars Honor Society Committee (ASHS), which allows them to maintain these relationships. They meet annually at the time of the Foundation Board of Directors meeting and the U. S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction in Florida and participate in special programs, including a technical conference. Some schools have chosen to fund their student for these activities. A tradition has developed for holding a luncheon limited to astronauts and Scholars where they can get acquainted with each other on a one-on-one basis and without external distractions from others. Scholars are important to the future of the Foundation, and two chairs on the Board of Directors are presently held by past Scholars. Participation is strongly encouraged whether by appearance at a meeting, an office visit or by e-mail.