Tribute and Other Named Scholarships
Michael’s connection to God and the Universe was profound.
He learned his love for the universe from his father, a Naval Air pilot in World War II.
As a Philosophy major, reporter, and writer, he loved to ask questions and always dug for the deeper meaning of things, no matter the topic.
The path of his life seemed to bring these early passions into focus again and again.
One of his greatest adventures was being selected, as a young reporter, to join the Astronauts and Cosmonauts in Russia in 1975, in preparation for the Soyuz Mission. He reported back to excited Americans all he learned about the mission and the wonder of the universe the two countries would soon explore.
But it all came together for Michael, when he took a writing job with AT&T in 1977. He was let lose to talk with the Nobel Prize-winning scientists of Bell Labs…among them, Arno Penzias, who, with James Wilson, discovered the first evidence of the Big Bang.
Penzias, a devoted Jew and believer in God, opened the Cosmos for Michael in a way that informed the man he was and the devout believer he became.
For Michael, we were all connected in God’s Great Plan for the astonishing Universe. We were, simply put, just Dust in God’s Wind.
Michael passed away on January 2, 2022. Right to the end, he said he wanted to be an astronaut "when he grew up." Perhaps now, another child will have that opportunity.
Megan H. Williams, Esq.
From the start, Megan (1985-2021) chose adventure and doing things differently from others. As a child, when she first learned about space camp, she knew she had to go. She was obsessed with space and the Apollo program, and she dreamed of reaching the stars. Life took her in a different direction to law school, but her passion for space never ended. She always wanted to maintain some level of adventure. After traveling to most of the US, Europe, China, and UAE with her family, she ventured out on her own to Cambodia, Vietnam, Iceland, and other parts of the world. She fearlessly jumped from a plane and swam with sharks. Her life was cut short too quickly from colon cancer at the age of 35 before she could continue her adventures, but her life was lived so that no time on this earth was wasted. As a tribute to her adventurous life and because her childhood dream was to go to space, a portion of her remains will be launched into an Earth Orbit Space flight so that every time those who survive her look up, they will see her in the stars.
In loving memory of her and her love of Space Camp and all things related to space travel, her family has created the Megan H. Williams, Esq Memorial Scholarship so that deserving adventurers who share Megan’s love of space can experience the same thrill that she did all those years ago at Space Camp. The family hopes that her memory will live on in the thoughts of the new adventurers who will push the boundaries of their own lives and carry on her legacy.
Dr. Deborah Edwards Barnhart
The Dr. Deborah Edwards Barnhart endowed tribute scholarship salutes her outstanding service to the Rocket Center and Space Camp. Retiring at the end of 2019, Dr. Barnhart, as the center’s chief executive for nine years, oversaw a financial turnaround at the center that resulted in an 89 percent increase in gross revenue and record-setting Space Camp and museum attendance. Her legacy is one of far-reaching vision and a passion for inspiring the next generation of explorers. This fitting tribute prepares future engineers, scientists and astronauts, and carries on Dr. Barnhart’s tradition of excellence and achievement.
Chris Bean was a mission control flight engineer for the Space Shuttle program and a design team member for Boeing's next generation space vehicle. Chris grew up in south Alabama and attained bachelor and masters degrees in aerospace engineering from Auburn University. He enjoyed visiting science classes of young students and loved showing them how they could apply what they learned in class to the exploration of the universe. Chris was also an avid traveler and adventurer; he loved hiking the world's backcountry to experience the unspoiled beauty of God's creation that most others never see. Whether climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or running with the bulls in Pamplona, he lived life to the fullest. His exuberant spirit, selflessness, and love for life have been an inspiration to many. After passing away in June of 2012, his family and friends set up this scholarship in his memory to spread his passions for science, travel, and space exploration to future scientists and engineers.
Ed Buckbee is vested in the hopes, dreams and realization of America’s manned space flight program. Starting as public relations officer under rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun and later as spokesman for the Mercury astronauts, his aspirations rapidly rose.
Buckbee was tapped by von Braun in 1970 to lead the U. S. Space & Rocket Center. He assembled the world’s largest collection of space hardware and convened the talent to design and execute Space Camp. He still strives to increase awareness of the importance of preparing America’s youth to be leaders in human space exploration.
An endowed scholarship establishes a legacy and support for future campers. They are designed to be permanent and perpetual, using interest/earnings from donated funds. Those wishing to endow a scholarship that turns around funds for an annual tuition meet a minimum donation calculated to produce future available income
We have several endowed scholarships. One example is the John B.E. Chase Scholarship. Others can be found at the bottom of this listing along with contact information to learn more about each fund.
John B. E. Chase served in the U.S. Army Air Corp and Air Force reserves. He graduated from The Citadel Military College of South Carolina in 1950 with an electrical engineering degree. Thereafter, he began a civil service career with the Civil Aeronautics Administration in Atlanta and continued with TVA in Chattanooga. In 1956, he began work on Redstone Arsenal with the U. S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency and later with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, serving with Dr. Wernher von Braun, Dr. Walter Haussermann and others.
Upon retiring from NASA, he worked at Control Dynamics and did private consulting. Chase was also the first director for the Enhanced 911 Center in Huntsville-Madison County.
Mr. Chase was also a founding member of Trinity United Methodist Church, sang in the choir and served on numerous church, school and neighborhood committees. Mr. Chase was the primary inspiration for and then served as the chairman and secretary of the board of directors for Carlton Cove, now Magnolia Trace Continuing Care Retirement Community in Huntsville.
This endowed scholarship is a tribute to Mr. Chase's contributions to his country, the U.S. space program and his community.
Other available endowed scholarships:
- Gary Griffin Memorial Scholarship
- Mevatec Corporation Scholarship
- Jim Hudson Family Scholarship
- Sam Eisen Memorial Scholarship
- Roberto Goisueta Scholarship
- Polly Lucas Space Academy for Educators Memorial Scholarship
Contact [email protected] for more information.
Dr. Charles Coale
Dr. Coale served as the general chairman of the Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium for more than 20 years and deserves credit for its continued success. He played an active part in its leadership until his unfortunate passing in August 1997. Dr. Coale was a very special person with many significant technical accomplishments (he primarily worked on spacecraft structural dynamics for Lockheed Martin) and a deep abiding interest in the development of young people. This was exemplified by his steadfast involvement in the youth activity programs at Ladera Community Church in California. The Mechanisms Education Association established this scholarship in memory of Dr. Coale to recognize outstanding young individuals who have the potential of making significant contributions to the fields of science, medicine and/or engineering in the not-too-distant future.
Frederick Joseph Bourgeois III
Fred was founder, owner and chief executive of an international, all-volunteer, 700+ member Google Lunar XPrize team, Team FREDNET, The Open Space Society, Inc. Beginning in 2009, he and his team worked to develop open source technology toward sending a robot to the moon. Fred’s heart was in this work and in the friendships he struck and nurtured across the world.
Though his heart was strong, in December 2016 at age 54, Fred succumbed to carcinoid cancer.
While teacher, physicist, computer geek, southern boy, inventor, cyber security expert, musical composer and performer identify Fred, the words neither fully describe nor capture his spirit like the words of a close colleague. “He was an amazing man. It is extremely rare that a person is both brilliant, yet humble. Optimistic, yet realistic. Creative, yet practical. Quiet, yet bold. Appreciative, yet demanding our best. Gentlemanly, yet powerful. No job was too big for him, yet none too small. No one intimidated him, yet he did not want to intimidate anyone.”
Fred earned undergraduate and advanced degrees from Tulane University.
Failure is Not an Option
This scholarship targets students at a specific school, Meadow Bridge Elementary in Meadow Bridge, West Virginia. It awards a scholarship to one male and one female student to attend a weeklong Space Camp the summer of their fifth-grade year. Students apply by submitting an essay on what “’Failure Is not an Option’ means to space exploration and my goals.”
This scholarship aims to inspire young minds to dream the impossible, to think differently. It’s not that they won’t fail – everyone does at some point - but they should not give up. We want them to understand that if things were easy, everyone would do them.
Why this school? Meadow Bridge is the birthplace of some who helped put mankind on the moon. These individuals attended schools without computers, the internet or Google, but they had passion, a purpose and a mission. They figured out the rest.
According to the fund’s organizers, this scholarship fund begins with one school, but their long-term goal is to expand to other schools.
Dr. Owen Garriott
Dr. Owen Garriott spent 59 days aboard the Skylab space station in 1973—a record at the time. He was also part of the ninth space shuttle mission, flying aboard Columbia in 1983 and operating a ham radio for the first time from orbit. Garriott later held other positions within NASA, including director of science and applications at Johnson Space Center in Houston. He left NASA in 1986.
Born in Enid, Oklahoma, Garriott graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in electrical engineering. He served in the U.S. Navy and then went on to earn masters and PhD degrees from Stanford University. He taught at Stanford until being selected in the first group of scientist astronauts in 1965. An integral part of Huntsville, Alabama’s aerospace community, Dr. Garriott also contributed to the region’s biotechnology economy through his businesses and mentoring young entrepreneurs.
Paco Hickam Memorial Scholarship
Paco was the beloved cat of Homer Hickam who lived with him throughout all of Homer's NASA years. He was a sweet cat who always made everyone feel good any time he was around. During Homer's many months away from home to train astronauts, Paco was taken care of by the Paco Support Team (PST) who dearly loved him. One of them was Homer's future wife Linda. During a Spacelab mission, Paco comforted a lonely astronaut while she was in orbit by talking to her and therefore became the first cat to meow in space. Paco passed away when he was 18 years old and is still missed by the PST but all are happy that a young person will attend Space Camp on a scholarship named after this prodigious cat.
Tommy Holman had an unusual interest in space from a very early age...some might call it a fixation. From the age of three, he knew what he wanted to do, and by the time he was six, so did all who knew him. Tommy wanted to be an astronaut. Unlike most six year olds, he knew what that meant. He knew the vehicles the early astronauts used to explore the heavens. He knew what an astronaut’s mission was, and he knew that he wanted to be one of them. He was a happy, energetic little boy with an insatiable appetite for all things space. Thomas Andrew Holman passed away on February 1, 2004, the first anniversary of the Columbia tragedy.
Jack LaFollette graduated from Boone High School in Boone, Iowa in 2013 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force the same year. Trained as a missile and space systems technician and assigned to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, he became a member of the 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron. Jack later served as a missile handling team chief, routinely leading a team of airmen in the installation and removal of the Minuteman III’s three-stage, 70,000-lb solid rocket motor.
Jack started an internship at the University of Iowa Operator Performance Lab in 2019. In his time at the OPL, Jack acted as a key member of the OPL flight operations team, helping to support dozens of research sorties involving OPL’s fleet of aircraft including two Aero L-29 trainer jets, two Mi-2 Hoplite helicopters, and numerous unmanned aerial vehicles. In addition to his support of flight operations, Jack helped design and run multiple research studies at the lab, took on a key role in fabrication and maintenance, and was quick to lend a helping hand wherever and whenever it was needed.
Jack died on October 28, 2019 from sudden cardiac death at the age of 24. This scholarship fund was created in honor of Jack's love for space, space science and exploration, and his belief that nothing is impossible.
T. Jack Lee
T. Jack Lee was the sixth director of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center from July 6, 1989 to January 6, 1994. Prior to his appointment as director of the Marshall Center, Lee had been Marshall's deputy director since December 1980, after seven years as manager of the Spacelab program at the Center. From July to September 1986 he was also acting director of the Center. In addition to his responsibilities as deputy director, Lee was manager of the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle Definition Office, NASA's effort to define and develop a heavy lift launch vehicle capable of meeting national requirements.
Scott Rubin started racing sports cars in 1980. Racing was his hobby and his business. He loved the sport and promoted safety while encouraging teens to get involved with SCCA Tire Rack Street Survival School.
Scott loved life and his friends. Besides racing he was involved with music, especially jazz in his younger years. He enjoyed astronomy and the study of the galaxies and continued to pursue this as an active hobby during his working life.
A man of few but impactful words, Scott made this world and the universe a better place and he will be deeply missed.
Josh Small was the founder of Castor Aerospace, which provides insurance coverage for the international space industry. Josh always had a passion for space exploration. Inspired by this passion, he was in the process of setting up a scholarship fund for his company’s charitable donation before he passed away.
Josh envisioned working with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation to send a group of children with special needs to Space Camp. This fund was set up by his family to help make his dreams come true by sponsoring Space Camp programs for these special children.
Ryan Ralph Thomas was born August 28, 1972 in Fargo, North Dakota. He grew up in South Dakota and Minnesota and for the past 36 years in Phoenix, Arizona. Ryan saw the world through the lenses of Asperger's Syndrome. His passions were anchored in all thing to do with space and flying. He is survived by his heartbroken family and friends.
Brian Robert White
As a youngster, Brian Robert White developed a love for flying and set a goal of becoming an aviator. He spent his formative years in Brentwood, Tennessee and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2009 with a degree in aerospace. While attending MTSU, Brian worked for two summers as a counselor at Aviation Challenge Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. While there, he was known as “Pan” to hundreds of camp trainees. Continuing to pursue his life’s dream, Brian applied for a coveted warrant officer position with the U.S. Army and was one of only two Tennessee residents accepted into the program. He was inducted into the Army in 2010 and during his service was posted at various times to Fort Rucker, Fort Campbell and Fort Irwin. Brian also served nine months in Afghanistan, flying UH-60 Black Hawks for medical evacuations and special operations. He was also interested in public safety work and after completing his military service, would have sought a position in that field. Brian was lost in a private plane crash on July 29, 2017, one day after announcing his engagement to Rebecca Raymond, the love of his life.
Dr. Alice Joyce Kerr Neighbors
Alice Joyce Kerr Neighbors was born December 27, 1930 in rural Randolph County, Alabama.
Literally and figuratively, Joyce Neighbors, at a full height of 6 feet, 1 inch, stands tall in American history as a pioneer for women entering STEM fields. She was among the first female engineers to join Dr. Wernher von Braun’s team, spanning the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency to NASA. Early in her career she led the group that calculated the flight trajectory of the Jupiter C vehicle that launched America’s first successful satellite, Explorer I, and later calculated the preliminary trajectories for the Saturn V vehicle. She was part of the technical staff in the guidance and control division of Marshall Space Flight Center’s Astrionics Laboratory, a senior system engineer for the High Energy Astronomical Observatory Project and chief engineer for the Atmospheric Cloud Physics Laboratory. She became Marshall’s program manager for Gravity Probe B, a test of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
Stella Abel dreamed of becoming an astronaut. In 2018, she attended Space Camp and by appearances, the active, likable teen with slight build and blue hair had a world of opportunities to explore. When she died by suicide, it stunned her family and friends. One very special friend, 16-year-old Kaden Legron, was deeply impacted and moved to action. “I run a mental health and suicide awareness booth in Ohio. My goal is to raise awareness to a cause that is not spoken about enough.” He sometimes reminds visitors to his booth, “Having someone be nice to you can make all the difference.” Your Space Matters is Kaden’s booth and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/yourspacematters1119/
Kaden, Stella’s family, and the Union County Ohio Community Foundation, deemed a Space Camp scholarship an ideal way to honor and embrace Stella’s memory.
Tyler Quinn Christensen
From a young age, Tyler loved airplanes, rocketry, spacecraft, innovation and adventure. Raised in rural Nebraska, Tyler eventually lived all over the U.S. Beyond his love of the unknown, he pursued several passions including cooking, gaming, stand-up comedy, fishing, hunting, camping and hiking. His broad understanding of the world and kind heart meant that he could talk with anyone on almost any topic. He made friends easily and nurtured those friendships with care.
A problem-solver and technology aficionado, his greatest point of pride was working for Apple for 11 years. Cancer claimed Tyler much too early with his passing at age 41.
Though he never attended Space Camp as a young boy, two of his fondest memories were visiting the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral and building model rockets with his nephews. This memorial supports others with similar passions and big dreams, regardless of their financial situation. This memorial also salutes Tyler’s recently deceased father, Lee Christensen, who, like his son, would embrace a program helping young imaginations to soar.
TRMN Third Fleet Midshipman Cruise Scholarship
Third Fleet seeks to provide our younger members with an experience at the Space Camp of their choice. We raise funds and accept donations to send two candidates per year. It is open to any youth member of TRMN. There is an application process and submissions are reviewed by a selection committee.
The Royal Manticoran Navy is the Official fan group for David Weber’s Honor Harrington Military Space Opera novels.
Brian Little Memorial Scholarship
Brian Little, the son of an airplane and helicopter pilot, loved aviation and space flight from a young age. He was a sci-fi enthusiast and thoroughly enjoyed Star Wars and Star Trek movies where, “Space -- the final frontier,” was the central theme. As a youngster, he watched aircraft soar above his home near the U.S. Army’s aviation flight training school and studied the stars with the telescope given to him by his grandfather.
In the 7th grade, Brian attended Space Camp, an experience that cemented his interest in flight and desire for a career in the space program. He earned his private pilot’s license at age 17 and went on to become an FAA licensed single-engine and multi-engine commercial pilot. He was also licensed as an unmanned aerial vehicle remote pilot. He graduated from Auburn University with a mechanical engineering degree and went to work at Marshall Space Flight Center supporting the International Space Station. Brian was one of the first flight controllers certified when the Payload Operations Integration Center became operational in February 2001. He later helped design, develop, and test payload experiments in collaboration with Kennedy and Johnson space centers, other NASA centers, and multi-national agencies. After a long and successful career in Huntsville, Brian returned to his hometown in southeast Alabama to further his education and simultaneously train for his helicopter pilot certificate. He was killed in an accident while training on May 30, 2020. This scholarship is established to honor Brian’s life and to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, “to go where no man has gone before.”
Josh Niedfeldt Memorial Scholarship
Josh Niedfeldt grew up in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. He was a graduate of Lakeside Lutheran High School and was inspired by the shuttle program to pursue engineering. Josh earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with an emphasis in aeronautics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Josh was an amazing person who enjoyed spending time with family and friends, camping, coaching Special Olympics, and spending time with his two cats and dog. He loved anything space related. Josh had an opportunity to experience zero gravity on the Vomit Comet and made it his mission to visit all the remaining space shuttles across the U.S.
After his unexpected death in July 2021, this scholarship fund was established to honor Josh's love of space and his desire to help others.
Christian Kennerly Memorial Scholarship
Christian developed a love of aviation and the military early in his life. He would often make his own military-style “uniform” out of construction paper and anything else lying around.
When I found out about the U.S. Space and Rocket center’s Aviation Challenge program, I knew it would be something Christian would love. I showed the program to him in late 2012, and he immediately wanted to attend that next summer. It changed him. He came home so excited, having made new friends, and learned valuable lessons in cooperation with others. Christian couldn’t wait to go back the next year. He attended the Mach III Elite program the next 3 years, and always coordinated the dates with the friends he had made. In 2016, after several tries, he and his partner won the coveted “Top Gun” challenge. Christian was very proud of this accomplishment, as they had to come from the bottom to win. This just shows the level of teamwork and commitment that Aviation Challenge instills in their participants.
The last year he could attend was 2016, and he talked about coming back to be a counselor 2 years later. Sadly, he did not make that last goal, as we lost him to suicide in March 2018. He was 19. We created a scholarship fund in his name, and wish to share the joy of Aviation Challenge with others each year. That is why we have set up a memorial scholarship for Aviation Challenge.
H.M. "Mike" Adams Memorial Scholarship
“Larger than life,” was the ready description of H.M. “Mike” Adams of Milton, West Virginia. A prodigious businessman, he was known for his seven Adams Hallmark stores operating across the state, as well as Adams Printing and Supply which opened in 1964. For family, friends and others in the community, Mike was also known for his kindness and skillful, 18-years of service as recorder for the City of Milton. At the Milton Baptist Church, he served as deacon and was a member of the choir. His love and compassion for others makes this scholarship, which provides camp tuition for a student living in West Virginia, especially meaningful to his family.
Mike Adams passed away in October 2021.
At the request of the organizer or family member, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation may post a photo and brief information for up to 12 months.
If donations for a memorial or tribute scholarship are sufficient to fund a full camp tuition prior to that year’s scholarship award date, a scholarship is given in the individual’s name.
If donations total less than the tuition, the funds roll into the general scholarship account to be combined with other donations used to send children to camp.
If a memorial or tribute scholarship has a substantial balance to fund scholarships for more than one year or receives funding annually for at least one scholarship, the memorial or tribute designation may continue.