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Ellen Ochoa was born on May 10, 1958 in Los Angeles, CA. She earned a bachelors degree in physics from San Diego State University in 1980 and went on to study electrical engineering at Stanford University obtaining a M.S. (1981) and a Ph.D. (1985). After graduating she worked at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM and then later at NASA's Ames Research Center designing and building optical systems. Dr. Ochoa is the co-inventor of three optical systems - a system for inspecting components; a system that can characterize an object well enough that a computer can "recognize" it; and a method to minimize distortion of an image. Inspired by Sally Ride, Ellen Ochoa applied to the astronaut program. In 1990 she was accepted by NASA into the astronaut program and has been in space four times (1993, 1994, 1999, 2002).

Dr. Ochoa served as Payload Commander on the 1994 flight and the 1999 flight was the first docking with the International Space Station. She served as Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center from December 2002 until September 2006 when she became Director of Flight Crew Operations.

image of Ellen Ochoa

Copyright, NASA

In September 2007, Dr. Ochoa was named to be the Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center. Among her many awards as an inventor, astronaut, and engineer are two unusual ones -- two schools are named in her honor. The Ellen Ochoa Learning Center (pre-K through 8th grade) opened June 2006 in Bell, CA and the Ellen Ochoa Middle School in Pasco, WA opened in 2003. In 2008, HENAAC selected Ellen Ochoa as Hispanic Engineer of the Year.

More details can be found at her biographical website at NASA http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/ochoa.html, referenced 23 October 2007, and at the Hispanic Heritage website http://gale.cengage.com/free_resources/chh/bio/ochoa_e.htm, referenced 23 October 2007.

 

 

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