CORVALLIS, Ore. – Astronaut Donald R. Pettit, a 1978 graduate of the Oregon State University College of Engineering, will give a free public lecture at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5, at the LaSells Stewart Center on OSU’s Corvallis campus, 875 SW 26th St.

Those interested in attending Pettit’s presentation, titled “Science of Opportunity,” should register online.

The 64-year-old Pettit, who earned a chemical engineering degree at Oregon State, is NASA’s oldest active astronaut.

A veteran of three space flights, Pettit served as NASA science officer for Expedition 6 in 2003, operated the robotic arm for STS-126 in 2008 and served as a flight engineer for Expedition 30/31 in 2012, living aboard the International Space Station for more than six months.

In all, the Silverton, Oregon, native has spent more than a year living and working in space. Prior to becoming an astronaut, Pettit was a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 12 years.

Among his many accomplishments in the space program is inventing the zero-gravity coffee cup.

Pettit’s return to Corvallis is part of the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering’s Octave Levenspiel Distinguished Lecture Series. Levenspiel, who was a chemical engineering professor at OSU and also an alumnus of the university, is one of four people from the college to be elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

He retired from Oregon State in 1991 and died in 2017 at age 91.

College of Engineering

About the OSU College of Engineering: The 10th largest engineering program based on undergraduate enrollment, the college received nearly $60 million in sponsored research awards in the 2019-20 fiscal year and is global leader in health-related engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced manufacturing, clean water and energy, materials science, computing and resilient infrastructure. The college ranks second nationally among land grant universities and third among the nation’s 94 public R1 universities for percentage of tenured or tenure-track faculty who are women.


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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039
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Greg Herman, 541-737-2496
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