Engineering Pennant Aboard Shuttle Discovery

graphicA pennant designed by a UConn engineering student accompanies Connecticut native and UConn engineering alumnus, astronaut Richard Mastracchio (Electrical Engineering/Computer Science ’82) aboard the space shuttle Discovery this week.

The pennant was designed by Computer Engineering senior Rockwell Schrock. It is the culmination of a contest held during the fall ’09 term that produced three designs, which were posted on our Facebook page and voted on by UConn engineering students.

Rockwell’s design was reproduced on a silk-screened pennant and sent off to NASA for its long journey to the International Space Station. When the well-traveled cloth returns to Earth, it will be displayed prominently in one of the engineering buildings. Two other outstanding entries were submitted by Joseph Boruch, III (a freshman in Mechanical Engineering) and Aravind Suresh (a doctoral candidate in Chemical Engineering).

In developing his winning design, Rockwell said “I picked a set of distinct qualities that I believe UConn Engineering instills on its graduates, things like character, knowledge, and leadership. Certainly, Mr. Mastracchio’s accomplishments have demonstrated that there is no shortage of prestige to be earned.” He remarked, “This banner will fly on one of the final flights of one of NASA’s most successful programs. I am proud to be a part of this significant event. When the banner returns to Earth, its public display will instill a sense of fellowship amongst UConn Engineering students from every graduating class. One hundred forty miles up. . .that’s probably the closest to space anything I design will ever be!”

This month’s Discovery mission is the third for Mr. Mastracchio, a Waterbury, CT native and former Hamilton Standard (now Hamilton Sundstrand) engineer. He transferred to Houston in 1987 to work for the Rockwell Shuttle Operations Company at the Johnson Space Center and joined NASA a few years later as an engineer. Mr. Mastracchio’s career as an astronaut began in 1996. He flew as a mission specialist on STS-106 (Atlantis, 2000) and STS-118 (Endeavour 2007). Mr. Mastracchio has logged over 588 hours in space, including three space walks. He was inducted into the University of Connecticut’s Academy of Distinguished Engineers in 2003.