NASA Picks Astronaut To Lead Education Office

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Astronaut Leland D. Melvin was named NASA associate administrator for education Oct. 12, replacing James Stofan, who had held the position in an acting capacity since the spring.

Melvin, a mission specialist who flew on the space shuttle to the international space station in 2008 and 2009, was detailed to NASA Headquarters in Washington from Johnson Space Center in Houston in April to lead an effort to overhaul NASA’s education offerings. He also was involved in NASA’s new Summer of Innovation educations initiative, working with R&B singer Mary J. Blige and Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb, among others, on programs aimed at engaging middle school students in science, technology, engineering and math activities during summer break.

Melvin studied chemistry at the University of Richmond, where we played wide receiver for the Spiders’ football team. He was drafted into the National Football League by the Detroit Lions in 1986 and spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and the Toronto Argonauts before an injury sidelined his football career. After returning to college and earning a master’s degree in materials science engineering from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Leland joined NASA as an aerospace research engineer at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. He joined the astronaut corps in 1998.

As associate administrator for education, Melvin will oversee an office with a budget of $145 million a year.