2018 Student and Awards Dinner Keynote

Leland Melvin

Astronaut, Athlete, and Author of Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances

“Houston, we have a problem.” Leland Melvin was 25 feet under water in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, a 6 million gallon pool, training to perform spacewalks as a NASA astronaut when he called the test director and asked him to turn the volume up in his headset. He never heard a reply and was immediately hoisted out of the pool to learn that he was deaf. Emergency surgery resulting in only partial recovery to his hearing led him to being medically disqualified to fly in space by NASA flight surgeons. This is just one of the many career ending challenges Leland has overcome in his life. Before becoming an astronaut Leland was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 1986 College Draft to play professional football but a hamstring injury thwarted his NFL career with Detroit and then later with the Dallas Cowboys. Hear his fascinating story of perseverance and how he ultimately traveled off-planet twice on Space Shuttle Atlantis to help build the International Space Station. Leland is the only person drafted into the National Football League to have flown in space. The Pro Football Hall of Fame honored his athletic and academic accomplishments by placing his Detroit Lions jersey under glass in Canton, Ohio. Through these professional experiences working on high stakes teams he developed a deep and nuanced understanding of effective team dynamics.


Leland has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in materials science engineering. He worked at NASA Langley Research Center in the area of nondestructive testing creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles resulting in publications in numerous scientific journals. After hanging up his space boots he was appointed head of NASA Education and served as the co-chair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Task Force developing the nation’s 5-year STEM education plan. Leland was the United States representative and chair of the International Space Education Board (ISEB), a global collaboration in space. He uses his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer, and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) careers. Leland was also recently seen as the host of the Lifetime competition series Child Genius and is currently seen as a judge for ABC’s competition series BattleBots.

Leland holds four honorary doctorates for his service in education, the sciences and philanthropy. He was chosen as an ICON MANN with Quincy Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Steve Harvey and 24 other men selected for their ability to inspire people of all ages through their vision and commitment to creating positive change throughout the world. Leland has been honored with the NFL Players Association “Award of Excellence” for inspiring athletes to pursue excellence on and off the field. He has written a chapter on the power of visualization in Venus Williams’ book Come to Win. Leland has appeared on Top Chef as a celebrity judge and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman, while Cesar Milan helped him with his unruly pooch Jake on an episode of The Dog Whisperer. He was featured in a Sci Fi Channel program documenting the making of the “Reach for the Stars” will.i.am song, which was transmitted to Mars and back to inspire students to pursue STEAM. After 24 years with NASA as a researcher, astronaut and Senior Executive Service leader he looks to share his stories of perseverance and excellence to inspire communities for lasting positive change.
In May, Leland released the memoir, Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances. In Chasing Space, Leland shares his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, and examine the intersecting roles of community, perseverance and grace that align to create the opportunities for success.

Leland currently resides in Lynchburg, Virginia.
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Register

Are you a STEM-H educator? Join us for a day of professional development and networking at this year's SOVA STEM-H Summit. The schedule includes both plenary and concurrent sessions with an emphasis on hands-on workshops that provide you with easy to implement curriculum ideas you can take back to the classroom.

For a listing of this year's workshops visit the event Program.

We hope to see you at this year's event!

AWARDS

The 2018 SOVA STEM-H Education & Industry Achievement awards:

  • Community Champion for STEM-H Education
  • STEM-H Educator of the Year
  • Innovative STEM-H Program of the Year
  • Elite STEM-H Education & Industry Partnership Award

Will be recognized at a joint awards banquet with the SPTC's Innovation Stars Awards. Leland Melvin will provide the evening's keynote.

Registration can be made to the Awards Banquet alone ($45) or as an add-on ($25) to March 8th's registration.

Sponsors & Exhibitors

This event would be impossible without the generosity & support of our sponsors. Sponsorship donations allow us to offer this wonderful program to our regional students completely free of charge. Please consider showing your support of STEM-H education by becoming a sponsor of the 2018 Summit.

If your organization supports students or educators in STEM-H we hope you'll consider participating in this year's event as an Exhibitor. Exhibitors are welcome to exhibit for one or both days of the Summit and are highly encouraged to present.