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Contact: Captain Willie Daniels, SHADES OF BLUE President, 303-549-6204
SHADES OF BLUE Aviation Program Hosts NASA Astronaut at Local Schools
Leland D. Melvin, a former astronaut and current NASA Associate Administrator for Education, will visit local schools in Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs to discuss the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, (STEM), on Thursday and Friday, August 30 – 31, 2012. SHADES OF BLUE, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing young people with the educational opportunities, training and employment assistance needed to pursue careers in the aviation and aerospace industries, is hosting Melvin’s visit to Colorado.
SHADES OF BLUE was conceived and created by a group of airline pilots, educators and business people who have an interest in aviation and aerospace and who wish to introduce students to career opportunities in those fields. "Shades of Blue is committed to introducing students to the field of aviation,” says Founder and President Willie Daniels. “As a pilot for United Airlines, and a graduate from the Aviation program at Metro State University of Denver, I’m focused on providing our young people with access to role models and resources that can help them connect the dots with what they are learning in school to what career opportunities exist.”
Mr. Melvin, who has held the post of NASA Associate Administrator for Education since October 2010, is responsible for the development and implementation of the agency's education programs that strengthen student involvement and public awareness about its scientific goals and missions. In this role, he leads the agency in inspiring interest in STEM fields through NASA's unique mission, workforce, facilities, research and innovations.

Mr. Melvin also serves on the White House National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education, or CoSTEM. CoSTEM coordinates the STEM education activities and programs for all federal agencies, encourages the teaching of innovation and entrepreneurship as part of STEM education, and implements a five-year STEM education strategy for all federal agencies. He is the United States representative on the International Space Education Board, or ISEB, a global collaboration in space education between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Centre National d'Études Spatiales. The ISEB shares best practices and unites efforts to foster interest in space, science and technology among the student community worldwide.

Mr. Melvin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Richmond, where he also excelled as a wide receiver for the Spiders' football team. He became a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Academic All American and University of Richmond Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee. He was then drafted into the National Football League, or NFL, by the Detroit Lions in 1986 and also spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and the Toronto Argonauts. After injuries sidelined his football career, he returned to academia and earned his Master of Science degree in materials science engineering from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He holds honorary doctorates from Centre College, St Paul's College and Campbellsville University.

Mr. Melvin began his NASA career in 1989 as an Aerospace Research Engineer at the agency's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. He entered NASA’s astronaut corps in 1998 and served as a Mission Specialist operating the robotic arm on two space shuttle missions to the International Space Station: STS-122 in 2008 and STS-129 in 2009. Astronaut Candidate Training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training and ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques.

Astronaut Leland Melvin visited the Institute of Science and Technology on August 30, 2012.  He was met by a group of Prairie students whom he encouraged to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  Aerospace careers, he told them, will be in high demand in the near future as older pilots and astronauts reach retirement.
Though the visit was short, he was able to sign the technology timeline on the second floor of the IST.  More information is contained in the press release, including information about the SHADES OF BLUE organization.

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