Posted on November 16, 2014

Former NASA Astronaut, Space Shuttle Commander and current Boeing [NYSE: BA] director of crew and mission systems for the Commercial Crew program, Chris Ferguson, spoke to Qatari students about the future of commercial space and the importance of studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Ferguson visited students at Qatar Academy, Qatar Aeronautical College and the Qatar Scientific Club in Doha, and shared with them stories from his experience as a NASA astraonut, stressing the importance of science, technology, engineering and math education, and the roles those disciplines can have on achieving a career in the aerospace industry. “Studying science, technology, engineering and math gives students a solid foundation to become future innovators,” said Ferguson. “Demand for STEM focused careers continues to rise. Today’s engineering students and scientists are the next generation of leaders.”

Ferguson was pilot of STS-115 (Atlantis) and commander of STS-126 (Endeavour) and the final shuttle mission, STS-135 (Atlantis). He has logged more than 40 days in space and 5,700 hours in high performance aircraft. Ferguson has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University and a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. Qatar Aeronautical College, founded in 1975 as the Civil Aviation College of the Gulf States, is now the Gulf region’s leading provider of training for the aviation industry. cadets at the college were provided with the opportunitie to ask Ferguson questions on his experience both at NASA and now, with Boeing.

"QAC students are privileged to have NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson meet and share his valuable inputs with them. Qatar Aeronautical College student work hard in their aviation-related studies in pilot training, engineering and related fields. Speakers such as Mr. Ferguson from Boeing, enrich and inspire our students. QAC and Boeing have partnered for the past few years in QATAR and we hope we will continue this partnership for a long time to come," said Qatar Aeronautical College Director, General Ali Al Malki.

Qatar Academy is part of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, a private, chartered, non-profit organization founded by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the father Emir. “Qatar Academy enjoys hosting many special guests who have made a significant impact in their chosen field. Chris Ferguson’s visit continues this tradition gives our student faculty another opportunity to be inspired by a true pioneer of our time,” said Neil Charles, Experiential Learning Coordinator, Qatar Academy.

Qatar Airways flies daily to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Qatar Scientific Club is a non-profit organization based in Doha, offering youth sports, training programs, workshops and activities in a number of scientific fields for youth. The club focuses on astronomy, amateur aviation, engineering, information technology and sciences. "It is a great pleasure to have Chris Ferguson at the club to talk about his experience as a former astronaut and the future of space travel. It was very interesting for all of us and we thank Boeing very much for giving us this opportunity," said Vice Chairman of the club, Rashid Ibrahim.

Boeing’s relationship with Qatar extends across its business units. Qatar Airways operates dozens of Boeing 777 commercial airplanes and has ordered 30 787 Dreamliners. The Qatar Emiri Air Force has used its two C-17 Globemaster III airlifters to provide humanitarian aid around the world. Ferguson’s visit was part of a Boeing Lecture Series launched in January 2011 to support the educational goals of Qatar’s National Vision 2030 for human development and sustainable economic diversification. Previous speakers in the Lecture Series, are chosen to provide real-life experiences and guidance to students pursuing careers in aerospace.

In his role with Boeing, Ferguson has comprehensive oversight for crew Interface in the design of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Transportation System. In this capacity, he works with NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, Johnson Space Center’s Engineering, Flight Crew and Mission Operations organizations and Kennedy Space Center’s Commercial Crew Program to ensure Boeing’s design supports NASA’s Human Rating Requirements. He also plays a key leadership role in the development and testing of system concepts and key technologies for the Commercial Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft and integrated launch and ground systems.