by Kathryn Meehan Quinto | October 2017
On the evening of September 16th, Georgia Tech’s 2017/2018 Astronaut Scholars, Sophia Guldberg and Michael Van Akin, were recognized for their achievement at the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s Innovators Gala in Washington, D.C. At the gala, Georgia Tech alumnus and previous Astronaut Scholarship recipient Patrick Biltgen received the inaugural Neil Armstrong (trademarked) Award of Excellence, presented by Neil Armstrong’s sons, Rick and Mark Armstrong. The Keynote Speaker was Astronaut Mike Collins of the Gemini and Apollo missions, a longtime friend to Neil Armstrong.
The Innovators Gala inducted undergraduates from throughout the nation who comprise the Astronaut Scholarship class of 2017/2018. Attendees included astronauts from many of NASA’s spaceflight programs, including astronaut and Georgia Tech alumna Sandra “Sandy” Magnus, along with astronaut scholars’ friends and family, scholarship supporters, and Georgia Tech employees. Georgia Tech was among the sponsored tables at the event. The Astronaut Scholars arrived in D.C. two days early to experience a series of professional development and networking events with industry professionals, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
The formal attire of attendees and the elegant ballroom set the stage for a memorable evening with stories from innovators, astronauts, and their family members and a celebration of achievement in science, technology, engineering, math, and space exploration.