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 OSU College of Engineering is among the nation's largest and most productive engineering programs. Since 2010, the college has more than doubled its research awards to $56.8 million by emphasizing highly collaborative research that solves global problems. It is a leader in signature research areas, including precision health, clean energy, resilient infrastructure and advanced manufacturing; and targeted strategic areas, including robotics, materials research and clean water.

Story By: 

Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039


Greg Herman, 541-737-2496


Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.