Bunshaft Lecture: Inspiring the Next Generation of Explorers

By Michael Parker

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 10, 2023) — Former NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin delivered the 10th Annual Bunshaft Lecture on Thursday, Oct. 5, sponsored by the College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering (CNSE).

Melvin, who was on track to play wide receiver in the NFL before an injury derailed his career, instead embarked on a 24-year career at NASA, where he overcame additional obstacles to become a mission specialist on two space shuttle missions.

Melvin shared stories and photos of his two missions to the International Space Station onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. He also delivered words of wisdom to the future explorers in the room.

"You students — this is all about you — get what you need to rise," said Melvin in front of a full house at UAlbany's Performing Arts Center. "You have the access, the opportunity ... but you have to put that belief in yourself, so that one day UAlbany can be walking on the surface of Mars."

The Bunshaft Endowment at CNSE, established through the generosity of Albert Bunshaft ’80 and Caryn Bunshaft ’82, provides support for the Bunshaft Lecture, designed to provide  the student community a broad range of topics related to careers in computing and engineering sciences.