UND graduates shared the commencement spotlight Friday, Aug. 8, with honored alumnae Astronaut Karen Nyberg
UND graduates share commencement spotlight Friday, Aug. 8, with honored alumna: NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg
On Friday, Aug. 8, in the Chester Fritz Auditorium the University of North Dakota will held one of its largest summer commencement ceremonies on record.
At the ceremony, honorary degrees were bestowed upon UND alumnae, including NASA Astronaut Karen Nyberg, a 1994 graduate of the College of Engineering & Mines mechanical engineering program. Nyberg received her doctoral hood from UND President Robert Kelley and Engineering College Dean Hesham El-Rewini, before an audience of UND summer graduates, their family and friends.
Nyberg has gone on to become the 50th woman in space. Nyberg delivered last summer's commencement address from the International Space Station.
Nyberg is the only UND graduate to have gone into space. A native of Vining, Minn., she studied mechanical engineering at UND, graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in 1994. She continued her education at the University of Texas at Austin, earning her master's and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering in 1996 and 1998, respectively.
Nyberg's involvement with NASA goes back to her undergraduate years, when she held co-op positions with the Johnson Space Center, working in a variety of areas. Upon completing her doctorate, Nyberg accepted a position with NASA's Crew and Thermal Systems Division, working as an Environmental Control Systems Engineer. NASA selected her for astronaut training in July 2000. After two years of training and evaluation, she qualified as a Mission Specialist and served in a support role for the Expedition 6 crew during their six-month stay at the International Space Station (ISS).
In July 2006, Nyberg participated in NEEMO 10, a deep-sea training and simulation exercise at the Aquarius laboratory off the coast of Florida. She and her crewmates lived and worked underwater for seven days testing concepts for spacesuit development and other space exploration options.
On May 31, 2008, Nyberg became the sixth Minnesotan and the 50th woman to be launched into space. That mission delivered to the ISS components for the Japanese Kibo laboratory and remote manipulator. During that 13-day mission, she orbited the Earth 218 times and traveled nearly 6 million miles.
On May 28, 2013, Nyberg, Russian Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and European Space Agency Astronaut Luca Parmitano were launched to the ISS for a 166-day mission. During that time Nyberg, became familiar to millions back on the ground as she shared pictures of the Earth and videos depicting astronaut activities. She also recorded a message for candidates at UND's 2013 summer commencement ceremony. In this second mission, she completed 2,656 orbits and traveled more than 70 million miles.
Nyberg is married to astronaut Douglas Hurley, and they have a son. She enjoys a wide range of recreational pursuits, including piano, drawing and painting, sewing and quilting, backpacking and running. She has completed several marathons, including the Boston Marathon.
Nyberg has received numerous honors and awards, both as a student and as an astronaut. From UND, she has been presented the Young Alumni Achievement Award (2004) and the Sioux Award (2009); the University of Texas has recognized her with its Outstanding Young Mechanical Engineer Award (2008) and its Outstanding Young Engineering Graduate Award (2009).