WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Purdue University has had 23 graduates who have become astronauts. This weekend, eight of them are returning for an astronaut reunion and one Purdue Engineering senior can’t wait to meet them.
“My interest in space started when I was in first grade. My First grade teacher Mrs. Chipman had a space week. We launched model rockets and talked about astronauts,” said Krista Garrett. “I knew then that I wanted to work for NASA.”
Garrett is a senior in Aeronautical Engineering at Purdue. She is graduating in May and she has already landed her dream job at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
As a part of her degree she worked for Johnson Space Center. She said she didn’t hide her intentions from her bosses.
“I just told NASA, after my last co-op tour that I wanted to work for them full time.” Garrett said. “I talked to the branch chief, who I wanted to work for, and told him, ‘Sir, I’d really like to work here.’ In August, I got my full-time offer.”
Garrett knew earning an Engineering degree at Purdue would be tough, but she was determined to achieve her dream.
“It was really tough. I thought I couldn’t do it, at first,” said Garrett. “My professors, my parents and my friends really encouraged me to stick with it and I learned a lot.
Garrett will be following in the footsteps of many Purdue graduates. Twenty-three Purdue alumni have become astronauts and many others have worked for NASA.
Eight of the astronauts are returning to campus this weekend for a reunion. They will speak at a forum as well as visit area high schools.
Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said the former astronauts are looking forward to coming back.
“We’re excited about all the time that these men will spend on campus with our students and faculty, but it was their idea to also devote hours to local high schools and to work with the community,” Daniels said. “That may be the most exciting part of this reunion.”
Daniels said Purdue takes a lot of pride in their involvement in NASA and the space program.
“Boilermakers had so much to do with [the space program]. No other University sends more people to NASA and to the new emerging, private space industry. I hope that’s always the case,” said Daniels.
Garrett said she is looking forward to meeting the visiting astronauts and maybe even become one someday. She is also looking forward to working with other countries in the name of space exploration.
“I think it’s amazing to be part of a program that brings together from all over the world for a common purpose,” said Garrett. “These nations don’t usually work together, but they have this common goal. I think that’s amazing.”