January 16, 2017

Purdue astronaut Eugene Cernan dies at age 82

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Eugene Cernan, a Purdue University electrical engineering alumnus, died Monday (Jan. 16) at the age of 82.

"Gene Cernan was a true hero, a pioneer in aviation and, to us, one of the greatest Boilermakers of all time," said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. "He will be remembered in the history books as the most recent human to step on the moon. We will remember him as a valued friend and an inspiration to take risks and reach for our goals."

Cernan earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Purdue in 1956 and an honorary doctorate in engineering in 1970. He was one of 14 astronauts chosen by NASA in October 1963.

"Although Gene Cernan is most often described as 'the last man to walk on the moon,' it is most appropriate for us to remember that he insisted on 'most recent.' Long after Apollo 17, he continued to inspire our dreams for the future. He was proud to be a Purdue engineer; we will miss him," said Leah Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering.

Mike Berghoff, chair of Purdue Board of Trustees said, "His accomplishments in space provided generations of Boilermakers, especially Purdue students, evidence that your careers can be built around your dreams and passions."

A long-time supporter of Purdue, Cernan served as co-chair of a major fundraising campaign with fellow astronaut and Purdue alum Neil Amstrong, the first man to step foot on the moon.

Cernan donated his personal papers to the Barron Hilton Flight and Space Exploration archives in Purdue University Libraries' Division of Archives and Special Collections in January 2009 and followed that up with the donation of the Apollo 17 Lunar Roving Vehicle mapbook to Purdue in 2013

Cernan was a frequent visitor to the West Lafayette campus over many years, and was heavily involved in the most recent Purdue astronaut reunion in 2014.

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