Computer Science Student Wins Prestigious Astronaut Foundation Award

Sept. 26, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas — Space Shuttle astronaut and University of Texas at Austin graduate Robert Crippen today presented a $10,000 Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) scholarship to Ben Braun, a junior majoring in computer science.

"Ben is a clear leader in computer science at The University of Texas," Crippen said at a ceremony on campus. "He is a prime example of everything an Astronaut Scholar is supposed to be: intelligent, perseverant and destined for greatness. As a Longhorn, I am especially proud to have the opportunity to present this award to such a worthy UT student."

At the ceremony, Crippen shared his experiences of piloting the first space shuttle and spending more than 23 days in space throughout his missions.

Braun's goal is to become a professor of computer science and create nanoscale devices that will help develop revolutionary treatments for cancer. He is also active in the university's Symphony Orchestra. A native of Friendswood, Texas, he has played the piano since the age of four and studies at the university's Butler School of Music.

The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students based solely on merit. ASF distributed 26 scholarships this year to outstanding college students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math. More than $3 million has been awarded in scholarships to date. Braun is the first Astronaut Scholar from The University of Texas at Austin.

“Astronaut Robert Crippen is a shining example of how UT helps prepare students to change the world — and explore new worlds. Ben Braun embodies that same potential. I congratulate him on this prestigious award and thank the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation for recognizing our wonderful students," said Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin.

Crippen graduated from New Caney High School in Caney, Texas, and received a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1960. He was the pilot for the first space shuttle flight and served as the spacecraft commander for four others. He also served as director of shuttle operations at Kennedy Space Center and later as director of the center. He serves on the board of directors for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and is a member of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the U.S. retain its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for college students. It includes more than 80 former astronauts.

For more information, contact: Beth Higdon, Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, 321-455-7013; Gary Susswein, Office of the President, 512-471-4945.