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Marking the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

Marking the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
Judith Resnik, Ph.D.

It’s hard to believe that January 28, 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. While tragic, the Challenger mission was particularly inspiring to a generation of children who went on to pursue thriving careers in STEM fields, including myself! Additionally, the space shuttle program as a whole demonstrated deliberated actions to increase representation of women and minorities and enable access to STEM careers. Decades later, we see this lasting impact. 

It is heartwarming to hear how many fellow SWE members tell a similar story, of how the allure of space travel inspired them to pursue excellence, while the human side of the tragedy also sparked a need to get involved and help “fix” the problem for the future. 

SWE honors Challenger astronaut Judith Resnik, Ph.D., with a $4,000 endowed scholarship and the prestigious Challenger Medal. Dr. Resnik was a SWE member and highly accomplished electrical engineer with an engaging personality. 

In honor of this anniversary, the board of trustees is leading a targeted fundraising campaign for the endowment with the goal of increasing the Judith Resnik Memorial Scholarship to at least $5,000 annually. We will be kicking off the effort during the WE20 annual conference.

The board of trustees would love to connect with past recipients of the Judith Resnik Memorial Scholarship and the Challenger Medal, both to celebrate and to share the many stories and experiences that her legacy inspired. Please contact the board of trustees at BOT@swe.org to become involved. 

Meanwhile, I encourage all SWE members to take a moment to learn more about Judith Resnik and the other Challenger astronauts — no matter how many times I hear their stories, I am always renewed and inspired.



Paula McDonald

SWE Trustee

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  • Marking the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

    SWE Magazine

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