SWE Endowed Scholarships: Judith Resnik Memorial Scholarship

In our SWE Endowed Scholarships series, we’ll feature one endowed scholarship each month. These blog posts will highlight the scholarship’s namesake, the amount awarded and any relevant criteria for application. This month, which happens to coincide with the 35th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, we feature the Judith Resnik Memorial Scholarship.
January 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in which Judith Resnik was killed. In honor of Dr. Resnik and in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, SWE is currently seeking donations to increase the annual Judith Resnik Memorial Scholarship award amount. Your donation of any amount will be permanently endowed and help sustain this important scholarship for years to come. To help, please donate here.

Judith Resnik Memorial Scholarship (Est. 1990)

After Judith Resnik was killed in the Challenger shuttle disaster there was an outpouring of donations from SWE members and friends to create a scholarship in memory of Judy and the Challenger event. Note: SWE Membership is a requirement for this scholarship.

  • Number Available: 1
  • Class: Sophomore, Junior, Senior
  • Major: AstroE, AstroET, AeroE, AeroET
  • Amount: $4000

Judith A. Resnik [1949–1986]

Judith ResnikJudith Resnik was born in 1949 in Akron, OH and graduated from Firestone High School with a perfect SAT score. She excelled in mathematics and classical piano Judith then attended Carnegie Mellon University receiving a BS, with honors, in Electrical Engineering in 1970.  She was Tau Beta Pi in 1969. She pursued graduate studies at University of Pennsylvania and then received a PhD in Biomedical Electrical and Engineering from the University of Maryland.


Judy worked for RCA in missile and space related work 1970-74. She became a Biomedical Engineer and Staff Fellow at National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD in 1974 and then a Senior Engineer for Xerox.  She became an Astronaut candidate at the Johnson Space Center in 1978. Judy was the 2nd female astronaut. She first flew on the Discovery shuttle in 1984 as a Mission Specialist. During the flight, she was acclaimed for her weightless acrobatics and a playful sense of humor, once holding a sign reading “Hi Dad” up to the camera, and displaying a sticker on her flight locker that advertised her crush on actor Tom Selleck.

Judy was a Mission Specialist on the ill-fated Challenger flight STS-51-L in 1986. She said “danger was simply another unknown to be mastered”. She received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004 (posthumously) and a lunar crater has been named ‘Resnik.’


Judy was an active SWE Senior Member for many years.  At its 1986 National Convention SWE announced the establishment of the Resnik Challenger Medal to be given to a “woman for visionary engineering contributions to space exploration”. The award was conceived as a fitting permanent memorial for Dr. Resnik.

Other Affiliations

Judith was also active in Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE) and the American Association of University of Women (AAUW).  She became an AAUW Fellow in 1975-76.  IEEE has a Judith Resnik Award for space engineering.

Look for the Judith Resnik scholarship feature article in the upcoming 2021 Winter Issue of SWE Magazine. The article will showcase a variety of Judith Resnik scholarship recipients over the years and how the scholarship helped them pursue a successful engineering career.

Endowed SWE Scholarships are awarded annually, and support the next generation of engineers. To establish an endowed scholarship that will be awarded in perpetuity visit this page (scroll down to “Scholarship Endowments”) or donate to an endowed scholarship here!

Author(s) Information

  • SWE Endowed Scholarships: Judith Resnik Memorial Scholarship Judith Resnik

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