NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel, who is currently stationed at the International Space Station, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Purdue University.
Receiving Honorary Degree In Space
The university connected live to the ISS to award its alumnus the honorary degree during the spring commencement ceremonies at the West Lafayette campus on Friday, May 11.
Traditionally, a Purdue dean would have to place the ceremonial hood on the honorary degree recipient. Since Feustel is still at the orbiting laboratory 250 miles above Earth, the university made an exemption.
His fellow Boilermaker, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, who is also aboard the ISS, stood in for the dean and placed the hood on him. Another Purdue alumnus, Gary Horlacher, served as the honorary capsule communicator at Johnson Space Center for the ISS link. Feustel and Tingle both made remarks to graduates during the ceremony.
"Purdue's tradition has always required that honorary degree recipients be present at commencement but, given the mission Drew has undertaken on behalf of science and his fellow citizens, our Trustees felt an exception in this case is more than warranted," said Purdue President Mitch Daniels.
"Plus, it will give our graduates an exceptionally fun and unique way to remember their special day."
Feustel earned his bachelor's degree in solid earth sciences from the university's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences in the College of Science. He also earned his master's degree in geophysics from Purdue.
Feustel is part of the six-member Expedition 55 crew set to conduct about 250 science investigations. He arrived at the ISS via the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft on March 23. He will return to Earth in about five months.
Feustel is also a veteran spacewalker. He has spent 42 hours of his space career doing spacewalks despite admitting that he has a mild fear of heights.
He had his seventh spacewalk outside the ISS in March. The tasks for this spacewalk involved installing a wireless communications antenna, swapping out high-definition video cameras and removing aging hoses from a cooling component.
"Boilermakers are known for making Giant Leaps for the benefit of humankind, from Neil Armstrong's historic first step on the moon to today's plant scientists helping feed the world's growing population," Daniels said.
"Drew Feustel's courage on behalf of our nation as he works to make the next Giant Leap in space science and exploration gives us all much to be proud of."