Outstanding Young Engineering Graduates 2009

Karen L. Nyberg

Karen Nyberg

M.S. ME, 1996; Ph.D. ME, 1998
Chief, Astronaut Office Robotics Branch, NASA/Johnson Space Center

Karen Nyberg became the 50th woman in space on May 31, 2008, as a mission specialist on board STS-124, Space Shuttle Discovery’s flight to the International Space Station.

Born in Vining, Minnesota, Karen earned her bachelor of science degree from the University of North Dakota in 1994. She immediately entered graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin and earned her master's and doctor's degree in mechanical engineering. She is currently chief of the Astronaut Office Robotics Branch at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

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Valori J. Leinmiller

B.S.AS.E., 2004
Environmental Control and Life Support System Trainer, Mission Operations Directorate, International Space Station/NASA Johnson Space Center

While growing up near El Dorado, Kansas, Valori Leinmiller dreamed that she would one day work at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The valedictorian of Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kansas, Valori came to The University of Texas at Austin for her bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering. While at the university, Valori was the president of Kappa Theta Epsilon, the co-op honor society, and an officer in Sigma Gamma Tau, the aerospace engineering honor society. As well, Valori was a student caller for the Friends of Alec Annual Fund and the recipient of more than nine undergraduate scholarships. She later earned a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Southern California.

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DEG Honorees

A "Distinguished Engineering Graduate" (DEG) is a graduate who has presented him or herself to the world as a consummate professional and dedicated engineer. Learn more about past DEG honorees.