February 14, 2007

SIUC graduate Sue Gaines - Engineering banquet will feature NASA engineer

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A 1984 Southern Illinois University Carbondale College of Engineering graduate who works for NASA is the keynote speaker for the 2007 Engineering Banquet next week.

Sue Gaines, who earned her SIUC degree in thermal and environmental engineering, is the featured speaker Thursday, Feb. 22. She joined NASA in 1985 as a mechanical engineer on Orbiter mechanical systems, and worked as an orbiter project engineer responsible for integrating all systems testing and modification on Space Shuttle Discovery, according to NASA officials.

Tickets are $15 for faculty and staff, and $3 for students. Reservations are requested by Friday, Feb. 16. A social hour is set for 6 p.m. in the Student Center's J.W. Corker Lounge, with dinner starting at 7 p.m. in Student Center Ballroom D.

Gaines works with the Kennedy Space Center's Constellation Project Office. The office is developing facilities and ground systems "that will process, launch and recover the Crew Exploration Vehicle" as part of NASA's mission of returning humans to the moon and sending humans to Mars.

Gaines will discuss her SIUC experiences and how those helped in her NASA career, interim associate dean John W. Nicklow said.

Gaines is a member of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. In 2000, Gaines received a Kennedy Graduate Study Fellowship and completed a master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Florida State University in December 2002.

Gaines is among several former SIUC College of Engineering graduates working at NASA. In December, 1987 SIUC graduate Joan E. Higginbotham served as a mission specialist aboard Discovery on STS-116. Higginbotham operated the station's robotic arm and coordinated cargo transfers between the shuttle and the international space station during a13-day mission.

For tickets, contact Sharon Harward in the College of Engineering at 618/453-7789.

The banquet is part of Engineering Week, an annual celebration of engineers and engineering achievement that started in 1951.