A student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University is one of two students selected to receive a prestigious Astronaut Scholarship.

Amanda Couch, a senior in the department, along with Dillon Amaya, a senior meteorology student, will be presented the $10,000 scholarships from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF), by Bob Cabana, space shuttle astronaut and Kennedy Space Center director, during a ceremony on Monday, October 28, at 10 a.m. in Rudder Theatre.

Sponsored by Honors and Undergraduate Scholarships and the Office of the Provost, the program, will include a public lecture from Cabana, who will share his perspective as director of one of NASA’s best-known facilities, as well as his experiences as a NASA astronaut who, as a veteran of four space shuttle missions, spent more than 910 hours in space. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets to the event are required from the Memorial Student Center Box Office.

Astronaut Scholarships are the largest monetary awards available to United States science, technology, engineering and math students based solely on merit. ASF has awarded more than $3.7 million to deserving students around the U.S. to date. Texas A&M students have earned a total of $220,000 from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation since 1986.

Couch was born in Houston, Texas in 1991. She currently is pursuing a B.S. in electrical engineering at Texas A&M with an expected graduation of May 2014, and participates in the university honors program. She had previously been an intern with Boeing in the Space Exploration division working with the ISS Electrical Power Systems group, and in the Research and Technology division working in the RF and Microsystems group.

She also has been involved in undergraduate research advised by Dr. Greg Huff since 2010. Her previous and ongoing research projects have included an aerodynamically functionalized radial dipole, an antenna measurement system for educational use and frequency reconfigurable colloidal dispersion-based filtering devices.  Couch has co-authored four scholarly presentations and publications. Her future goals include a career in applied research within the private sector.

“We are thrilled that two of our students were selected for this prestigious award this year, the first time in the history of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation that two scholarships have been awarded to the same institution,” says Dr. Sumana Datta, executive director of Honors and Undergraduate Research. “This tells us that the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation recognizes the academic strength we have among our students here at Texas A&M. It’s also a special opportunity to hear from each recipient at the awards program and also from one of the leaders within NASA and our space industry.”

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1984 by the six surviving members of America’s original Mercury program. Its mission is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for college students who exhibit motivation, imagination and exceptional performance in these fields.  ASF funds 28 $10,000 scholarships annually. Today, more than 100 astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs have joined in this educational endeavor.

Contributed by Peggy Samson, Office of the Provost, (979) 845-6366

Coverage of the ceremony from The Bryan-College Station Eagle