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Society of Women Engineers

Remembering Judith Resnik 30 Years after the Challenger Explosion

Today we remember SWE Member Judith Resnik, NASA Mission Specialist who died thirty years ago when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded.

Published On: January 2016

Challenger LaunchToday we remember SWE Senior Member Judith Resnik, NASA Mission Specialist, who died thirty years ago. On January 28, 1986, Dr. Resnik was killed when the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded after launch.

The Judith Resnik Memorial Scholarship was established in 1990. Collegiate sophomores, juniors and seniors in any space-related engineering majors are encouraged to apply for the $3,500 scholarship. The deadline for applications is February 15.

Challenger crew

Space Shuttle Challenger crew, Judith Resnik (Top, Far Right)

The Judith Resnik Medal was established in 1986. It is awarded for visionary contributions in space exploration to individuals with at least 10 years of service. The award recognizes a specific engineering breakthrough or achievement. The deadline to apply or submit a nomination is March 31.

In 1978, NASA announced the first group of women to become astronauts, and Dr. Resnik was one of them. She received a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1970. In 1977, she earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the University of Maryland.

Bonnie Dunbar, a Senior Member of SWE and a professor of aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University, interviewed at NASA at the same time as Resnik, and they became friends. Dunbar talked about her memories of Resnik in an article this week on TribLive, the website of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

A memorial to Judith A. Resnik is located at the base of Hammerschlag Hall at Carnegie Mellon University. Members of Tau Beta Pi: THE BENT, the National Engineering Honor Society, maintain the monument.

Resnik has been remembered with many posthumous honors, including buildings and landmarks being named for her, such as a lunar crater on the far side of the Moon, a dormitory at Carnegie Mellon, and an engineering lecture hall at the University of Maryland.

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BP – My Achievements
Brown – Executive Master
SWE – Diverse Podcast