The engineer, educator, former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver will deliver his address to the Elon community on Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m. in Alumni Gym.
Leland Melvin is an engineer, educator, former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver and will deliver the Baird Lecture to the Elon community on Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m. in Alumni Gym, Koury Athletic Center. The lecture is a part of Elon’s Speaker Series for the 2021-22 academic year.
He served on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on missions STS-122 (2008) and STS-129 (2009), helping to construct the International Space Station.
Drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986 to play professional football, a hamstring injury thwarted his NFL career. Three years after being drafted, Melvin, who majored in chemistry in college, joined the NASA Langley Research Center. Less than a decade later, Melvin was selected as an astronaut. Upon hanging up his space boots, he led NASA Education and co-chaired the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Education Task Force, developing the nation’s five-year STEM education plan.
After 24 years with NASA as a researcher, astronaut and Senior Executive Service leader, he now shares his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue STEM careers.
In May 2017, Melvin released his 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 examines the intersecting roles of community, perseverance and grace that align to create opportunities for success.