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Friday, April 12, 2024
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Former astronaut and UF alumnus speaks at New Engineering Building

<p>Retired astronaut Kevin Ford presents an Expedition 34 mission patch that was flown in space.</p>

Retired astronaut Kevin Ford presents an Expedition 34 mission patch that was flown in space.

A couple of rejection letters from NASA didn’t keep one retired astronaut and UF alumnus from getting to space.

Col. Kevin Ford shared his experiences in space, gave encouraging words to engineering students and sparked heavy laughter Thursday afternoon.

He spoke for free to about 200 people in the New Engineering Building.

Ford discussed his time as the pilot on the two-week STS-128 mission to the International Space Station in 2009 and shared advice with aspiring engineers.

Ford, who received a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from UF in 1994, let the crowd have first-hand looks into what it is like to travel in a space shuttle.

The audience saw videos of the interior of the spacecraft, including footage of astronauts trying to eat cookies and pancakes that floated mid-air because of the lack of gravity.

He said going into orbit was one of his most memorable experiences.

“I couldn’t believe where I was,” he said.

Before his speech, Ford received a distinguished alumni award from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UF.

Ford said he had to undergo tests after landing on Earth because of medical issues, like losing bone mass, that can arise from traveling.

He told students his college degree contributed to his space work.

He later emphasized the importance of higher education and perseverance.

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Adam Batchelor, a 19-year-old UF biomedical engineering sophomore, said at one point he wanted to be an astronaut.

He said Ford’s talk was inspiring, and he liked seeing the inside of a spacecraft.

Ford advised students to not just strive for a perfect grade point average but to make sure they are learning valuable skills.

“Keep up the good attitudes and keep working at it,” he said.

A version of this story ran on page 13 on 11/8/2013 under the headline "Astronaut inspires UF students"

Retired astronaut Kevin Ford presents an Expedition 34 mission patch that was flown in space.

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