With a resume full of accolades, it’s amazing that West Virginia University senior Ruth Williams stays grounded.

Williams, who is majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering, was named a finalist for Xploration Station’s student astronaut contest.

What started as an interest in making space ships out of Legos has paid off for Williams.

“My goal since childhood has been to become an astronaut,” said Williams, a Summersville native. “This is as close to my goal as I can get while still being a student, and that’s pretty spectacular.”

If selected, Williams will attend the Academy in early October and her journey will be featured on Fox’s Exploration Outer Space with host Emily Calandrelli, a WVU alumna. Calandrelli wasn’t surprised to see a fellow Mountaineer in the running.

“WVU students are passionate people who are great communicators and go after what they want,” said Calandrelli. “It’s not surprising that Ruth’s video did so well and was viewed so many times. Mountaineers are extremely loyal to each other and support each other so well.”

Calandrelli came up with the idea for the contest as a way to involve the next generation of space explorers on her show.

“On the show we typically interview experts, which often means they are 20-30 years into their career,” said Calandrelli. “This is a great way to highlight young people who are really passionate about space.”

To enter the contest, Williams submitted a three-minute video detailing her opinions on space exploration, suborbital spacecraft research and her plans for her future career.

“I think as humans we want to explore, learn and grow,” said Williams in the video submission. “Space exploration unites people from different countries and cultures toward a common, peaceful goal. It shows the best of mankind.”

More than 18,000 people viewed the video, with countless shares and comments from friends, family and fellow Mountaineers describing the reasons Williams deserved to win.

“I never thought that I would get to this point to have so many people share my video,” said Williams. “If a few people watched it and got excited about space, or a few children saw it and thought about becoming an engineer, than I have done my job.”

Williams is a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the Space Public Outreach Team at WVU, two organizations that focus on K-12 outreach in the Mountain State.

“I bleed gold and blue and I love everything about this state,” said Williams. “I pride myself on being a Mountaineer and I’m glad I’ve been given this platform to display that pride.”

-WVU-

bmd/09/11/15

CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4086, Mary.Dillon@mail.wvu.edu

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