William Green receives scholarship from astronaut foundation

     william green

(William Green '16 credits his curiosity with sparking his interest in science. Retired astronaut Sam Gemar, in photo below left, congratulates Green on his 2014 Astronaut Scholarship Foundation award. Photos by Brandon Vick/University of Rochester)

“You just continue to impress.”

That was retired astronaut Sam Gemar’s assessment of William Green at a recent ceremony awarding the junior in mechanical engineering with a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

green and gemarThe foundation, established by six surviving Mercury crew members in 1984, awards scholarships to college students who exhibit motivation, imagination and exceptional performance in science and technology.

Green was handpicked for the award by the family of the late Robert T. Long, an inventor and founder of Composite Technologies Corporation. Long’s family has contributed to the astronaut scholarship fund in his honor.

“It’s truly a reward to receive this kind of confidence from all of you,” Green told family members, faculty, classmates, foundation representatives and two of Long’s sons, who attended the ceremony in the Welles-Brown Room of Rush Rhees Library,

Green credited his curiosity – “that intrinsic itching to wonder” – with sparking his interest in science.

“Curiosity can and should extend in every direction. Imagine what we stand to learn from each other’s curiosity,” Green said. “What it discovers in every field, I believe, is a delicate equilibrium between us and our surroundings, one which we should take care to appreciate and preserve.”

Green received the Iota Book Award from the University of Rochester a year ago in recognition of his scholarly achievement, humanistic values, co-curricular activity and leadership potential. He has served as Usability Team Leader of the University’s Baja SAE team, which designs and builds all-terrain vehicles to race against other university teams.

He is studying optomechanics, which involves the precision mounting of optical components such as lenses, mirrors and lasers, and is designing lab equipment for an optics research group at the University of Rochester. He envisions a career designing celestial telescopes, a goal heavily influenced by the late Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.

“William possesses a rare combination of academic excellence, experience in hands-on engineering, imagination in research, and a desire to contribute to the University community,” said John Lambropoulos, chair of mechanical engineering and materials science and director of the materials science program.

Green thanked Lambropoulos, “who I’ve seen as a mentor here since day one.”

The University of Rochester became a partner of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation in 2011, thanks to a nomination by former astronaut Edward Gibson, who graduated from UR with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1959. Gibson, a recipient of the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame for his participation in the 1973 Skylab-4 space flight, spending what was then a record 84 days in orbit.

The partnership allows the UR to nominate two students a year for one $10,000 scholarship.

Green is the third UR student to receive an astronaut scholarship. Previous recipients were Halley S. Orshan ’12, a computer science/linguistics major, and Vincent Yu ’14, a physics and astronomy and math major, who received the scholarship for two years.

Since its inception, the ASF has awarded over $4 million in scholarships to more than 370 students.