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Electrical engineering alumna honored by NASA

Elisabeth Weems and Colleen Carow | Dec 4, 2017
Cynthia Calhoun

Electrical engineering alumna honored by NASA

Elisabeth Weems and Colleen Carow | Dec 4, 2017

Russ College alumna Cynthia Calhoun (BSEE ‘88) has received NASA’s Honor Award and Equal Employment Opportunity Medal for her notable efforts to inspire students underrepresented in STEM to become future engineers and scientists.

The medal, given to distinguished NASA employees who contribute to the organization’s goal of fostering inclusion and diversity, recognizes participating in mentorship programs, initiating outreach efforts, and volunteering at national conferences. It was presented to Calhoun, an aerospace engineer supervisor at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, by astronauts Janet Kavandi and Michael Good.

“It was an honor to receive the award from two astronauts. I appreciate being recognized by NASA,” Calhoun said.

A dedicated volunteer for Ohio University and the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, Calhoun created the Bertha L. Calhoun Scholarship for rising juniors in the Russ College in honor of her mother in 2015. She was a founding member of the Greater Cleveland Indeed We Code (IWC) camp, which teaches African American girls coding, and served as guest speaker at the first OHIO Summer Coding Camp this year for girls from across the state. She also was helped develop a Russ College partnership with the International Women's Air and Space Museum in Cleveland to create an engineering summer camp, and she served the OHIO Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2010 to 2016.

Calhoun says exposing underrepresented students to STEM fields gives students important insight into potential career paths they hadn’t before considered.

“Students can be afraid of things they don’t understand. They may think, ‘I can’t be an engineer because I don’t like math,’ or ‘I can’t be a scientist because I don’t have any exposure to it,’” Calhoun explained. “I see myself as a catalyst, trying to put people and ideas together.”

Formerly, Calhoun was project manager at the NASA Software Independent Verification and Validation Facility, and was electronics engineer for the U.S. Air Force at both the San Antonio Air Logistics Center and Aerospace Guidance and Metrology Center.

Learn more about the Equal Employment Opportunity Medal on NASA’s website.