Former Astronaut to Address Graduates at Spring Commencement

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Former astronaut Gregory H. Johnson will address more than 1,000 graduates at Michigan
Technological University’s Spring Commencement Saturday, May 4.

Lt. Col. Gregory H. Johnson (USAF Ret.) is a former test pilot and has logged more
than 60 combat missions in the Middle East as a fighter pilot with the US Air Force.
A graduate of the Air Force Academy, Johnson also has a Master of Science in Flight
Structures Engineering from Columbia University and an MBA from the University of
Texas.

An Outer Space Endeavour

In 1998, NASA selected Johnson for its astronaut program. After years of rigorous
training, he was selected in 2006 to pilot the Space Shuttle Endeavour on a mission
to assemble the International Space Station (ISS). That mission launched March 2008.
Three years later, Johnson piloted Endeavour’s final flight to the ISS, the second
to last space shuttle flight ever. He has spent more than 31 days in space, orbited
the Earth nearly 500 times and traveled more than 12.5 million miles. 

Johnson said he is looking forward to addressing Michigan Tech’s graduates. “I am
honored and excited to share in the graduation celebration of Tech’s Class of 2019,”
he said, adding that he was extremely impressed with the high quality of curriculum,
faculty and students when he visited campus last year.

Johnson lives part time in Traverse City, Michigan, where he is an aerospace and youth
development consultant for Newton’s Road, a non-profit company that works with regional
partners to support and increase access to learning opportunities in STEM. He is also
managing director of the Traverse City Space Accelerator.

A Love Letter to Michigan Tech

Generally, when a dozen Michigan Tech graduates get together, it would be considered
an alumni event. However, for this Spring’s student speaker, it would be considered
a family reunion. When Monica Brechting receives her BS in Mechanical Engineering
Saturday, she will be the 12th member of her family to graduate from Michigan Tech.

Raised on a farm that has been in her family for a century and a half, Brechting said
she likes working with her hands, so “engineering made sense to me.” About her speech,
Brechting said,
“This is my love letter to Michigan Tech. It takes a unique person to thrive here,
but if you’re that type of person, you’ll fall in love. I wrote this speech because
it’s the speech I wanted to hear.”

Brechting is an honors student and has been active at St. Albert the Great University
Parish, played piccolo in the Huskies Pep Band and was a member of the Robotics System
Enterprise as team lead for her Capstone project, an underwater soil sampler. She
also served as president of the Michigan Tech Chapter of Silver Wings, a national
organization dedicated to creating proactive, knowledgeable and effective civic leaders
through community service and education about national defense.

Devotion to Duty

New military officers will be commissioned at ceremonies prior to commencement. In
services at the Rozsa Center, eight cadets from Tech’s Reserved Officer Training Corps
(ROTC), six from the Army and two from the Air Force will be commissioned. The new
officers will receive their diplomas and take the Oath of Office during commencement.

Michigan Tech’s Spring Commencement will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday May 4,
in the MacInnes Student Ice Arena in the Student Development Complex.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than
7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than
120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering,
forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.

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