Purdue alumnus astronaut Ross to promote STEM education for children, sign books

September 23, 2013  

Jerry Ross Spacewalker book cover

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University alumnus astronaut Jerry Ross is looking to light a fire under young people when it comes to the STEM disciplines.

That's partially why the man who has traveled into outer space a record seven times will make more than 15 stops for public and private appearances at Purdue, around Indiana and in Chicago over a two-plus-week span in September and into October. He will also use the tour to visit with Purdue alumni, the general public, and to sell and sign his recent book "Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA's Record-Setting Frequent Flyer," published last January by Purdue University Press.

At a time when the U.S. spaceflight program faces an uncertain future, Ross wants to kindle the spark in the engineering and technology fields among school children.

"I want to encourage young people to use their potential and realize exciting, challenging careers in engineering and science fields," he says. 

Ross' life story - that of a child from rural Crown Point in Northwest Indiana who had a dream and made it happen - serves as inspiration to young people, said Charles Watkinson, director of Purdue University Press, whose office helped put together the tour.

The book also can inspire adults and is just a good read, Watkinson said. Co-authored by Lafayette writer and author of six books, John Norberg, it is an inspirational, faith-based story about a personal journey from rural Indiana to space and overcoming setbacks. It provides an insider's account of the U.S. space program, its relations with other nations, successes and failures and Ross' thoughts on human spaceflight.

The book was launched earlier this year at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., followed by events at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.

On his upcoming visit to the Midwest, Ross will visit a variety of locations giving presentations and signing books. The public is welcome to the following events:

* Purdue Homecoming at the Purdue University Libraries tent, 9-11 a.m., Saturday (Sept. 28).

* Indianapolis Public Library, 2:30-4:30 p.m., Sunday (Sept. 29), in the Central Library.

* Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Libraries Lecture, 7-9 p.m., Oct. 2. The lecture is at the Science Building, Room 168.

* Adler Planetarium, 3 p.m., Oct. 5, Chicago.

Additional appearances will be for the Purdue Alumni Association; Lafayette parochial schools hosted by St. James Lutheran Church; Westfield (Ind.) Lions Club; Purdue Club of Chicago; and the Heartland Fall Forum – an independent bookstore conference in Chicago. Details of appearances, public and private, will be available on http://www.jerrylross.com 

Ross announced last February that he was donating personal papers to the Purdue University Library's Division of Archives and Special Collections. His papers join other key astronaut collections, including papers of Neil Armstrong, Roy Bridges Jr., Eugene Cernan and Janice Voss. 

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu  

Sources: Charles Watkinson, 765-494-8251, cwatkinson@purdue.edu 

Bryan Shaffer, sales and marketing manager, Purdue University Press, 765-494-8428, bshaffer@purdue.edu  

Related releases:

Book 'Spacewalker' captures history of shuttle and its most frequent flyer

Jerry Ross becomes latest alumni astronaut to donate papers to Purdue 

Related websites:

Purdue Libraries Division of Archives and Special Collections, Jerry L. Ross: An Astronaut's Journey

Note to Journalists: Journalists wishing to interview Jerry Ross, either at events or by phone, can contact Bryan Shaffer, at 765-494-8428, (cell: 765-426-1565), bshaffer@purdue.edu 

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