Astronaut Bruce McCandless to present Astronaut Scholarship to Jeni Sorli

Former NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless will present University of Colorado Boulder senior Jeni Sorli with a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation during a free public campus event on Thursday, Oct. 30.

The award ceremony will coincide with the presentation by McCandless, who will share his space shuttle experiences as a NASA astronaut. The lecture will be held at noon in the lobby of Andrews Hall Residential College, part of the Kittredge Community complex on the southeast edge of the CU-Boulder campus.

Sorli, a chemical engineering major from Billings, Montana, is the recipient of a number of other prestigious awards. She is a Goldwater Scholar, an Engineering Merit Scholar, a Norlin Scholar, a Presidential Scholar and a Conoco Phillips engineering intern.

Astronaut Bruce McCandless free-floating in space during Challenger space shuttle mission, 1984. Image courtesy NASA.

The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students based solely on merit. There were 32 awards dispersed in 2014 through the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) to outstanding college students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math. More than $3 million has been awarded in scholarships by the ASF to date.

Since 1995, more than $200,000 has been disbursed from the ASF to CU-Boulder undergraduates.

Sorli currently is involved with the Engineering Honors Program, the CU Chapter of Engineers without Borders and CU Biodiesel. She has been studying renewable fuels, including working in the lab of Professor Alan Weimer researching biomass degasification.

McCandless, a retired U.S. Navy captain, flew on NASA’s STS-41B Challenger mission in 1984 – which was commanded by CU-Boulder alumnus Vance Brand, one of 18 astronaut-affiliates from CU-Boulder – and helped to deploy two communications satellites. In 1990, when he flew on the STS-31 Discovery space shuttle mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, he became the first NASA astronaut to make an untethered flight in space.

The ASF is a nonprofit organization established by NASA’s Mercury astronauts in 1984 to aid the United States in retaining world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for exceptional college students. Today more than 80 astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs have joined in this educational endeavor. For more information visit

Deborah Viles, CU-Boulder Office of Top Scholarships, 303-735-6801
Jim Scott, CU-Boulder media relations, 303-492-3114

Article edited from the original post on CU Boulder Today.