Bonnie Dunbar (BS CerE 71, MS CerE 75)

2012 COE Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, MSE alum and member of our External Advisory Board, will receive the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from the College of Engineering on May 18, 2012. Below is the COE biosketch from their Diamond Award webpage.


A veteran of five space missions as a NASA Mission Specialist Astronaut, Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar flew aboard the Space Shuttles Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia and Endeavor. She served twice as a Payload Commander and was on the first US-Russian docking mission. Previously she served as a NASA Mission Controller, and held research and engineering positions with the Boeing Co., Harwell Laboratories in the UK and Rockwell International. Following her flight career, Dunbar served seven years in the NASA Senior Executive Service. After retiring from NASA in 2005, she served as President and CEO of The Museum of Flight (MOF) in Seattle until 2010.


Dunbar’s contributions to aerospace are truly ground-breaking, and her passionate commitment to youth education and the promotion of women in engineering is inspirational. Starting at UW, Dunbar helped organize a secondary school visitation program, taking science demonstrations into the classroom and was part of the first UW “Women in Engineering” conference. Throughout her career Dunbar has promoted engineering as a career field and advocated for K-12 science education. At NASA, she played a key role in expanding the Space Settlement Design Competition and the Texas Aerospace Scholars Program for high school students, and in leading the Zero-gravity Parabolic flight program for engineering undergraduates. She championed MOF educational initiatives including The Aviation Learning Center, The Challenger Learning Center, Washington Aerospace Scholars, the Aerospace Camp Experience and the Raisbeck Aviation High School to be built on the MOF campus. Dunbar is a role model and never misses an opportunity to inspire students to reach for the proverbial stars.


Dunbar holds a doctorate in mechanical/biomedical engineering from the University of Houston. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of several technical societies, and has received numerous awards and honors.


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