NASA Astronaut to be Commencement Speaker

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. -- NASA astronaut Kathryn C. Thornton, a veteran of three space flights, including the flight that repaired the Hubble telescope, will be the honored speaker at WPI's 127th Commencement on Saturday, May 20, at 11 a.m. on the Quadrangle. The graduating class is expected to include 620 seniors, 200 master's degree and 20 doctoral degree candidates.

The theme, "Technical Literacy-- A Foundation for the Future," ties directly into two tenets of the WPI educational experience: the WPI Plan, which encourages the integration of theory and practice in a unique educational program; and the Institute's innovative global perspective program. These two educational platforms provide undergraduates with a strong appreciation for technology and its applications and a basis for professional growth.

Thornton will receive an honorary doctor of science degree. Robert F. Daniell, chairman of the board, United Technologies Corp. in Hartford, Conn, Milton W. Garland '20, senior consultant for technical services for Frick Co. in Waynesboro, Pa., and Paul S. Morgan, chairman of Morgan Construction Co. in Worcester, will receive honorary doctor of engineering degrees.

Thornton, originally from Montgomery, Ala., received her bachelor of science degree in physics from Auburn University in 1970, and earned her master's and doctorate in physics from the University of Virginia. In 1979 she was awarded a NATO postdoctoral fellowship to continue her research at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany. She returned to the U.S. in 1980 and was a physicist at the U.S. Army Foreign Science and Technology Center in Charlottesville, Va., until 1985, when she became an astronaut.

Thornton's technical assignments have included service in flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, as a team member of the Vehicle Integration Test Team at Kennedy Space Center, and as a spacecraft communicator. She flew on STS-33 in 1989, STS-49 in 1992 (the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour), and STS-61 in 1993. She has logged more than 593 hours in space, including more than 21 hours of extravehicular activity.

During the flight of Endeavour Thornton performed a record four space walks to retrieve, repair and deploy the International Telecommunications Satellite. During the 11-day flight of STS-61, she and three other astronauts captured the Hubble Space Telescope and restored it to full capacity after a record- setting five space walks.

Thornton will be the payload commander of the second United States Microgravity Laboratory set to launch aboard the Columbia in the fall. Albert Sacco Jr., professor of chemical engineering, will be aboard as payload specialist. The 16-day mission will focus on materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, the physics of fluids and many other scientific experiments that will be housed in the pressurized Spacelab module.

Thornton is a member of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Pi Sigma.

Robert Daniell is chairman of the board of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), a global corporation with a history of innovation and invention with headquarters in Hartford, Conn. He became chairman in 1987. United Technologies and its companies provide a broad range of high technology products to the aerospace, building systems and automotive industries throughout the world.

Daniell, a native of Milton, Mass., is a graduate of Boston University's College of Industrial Technology. He joined Sikorsky Aircraft in 1956 as a design engineer and later served as a project engineer on several major aircraft programs, including the U.S. Air Force HH-3E "Jolly Green Giant" helicopter and the U.S. Coast Guard HH-3F.

He has had a series of advancements with Sikorsky and United Technologies. In 1968, he became program manager for the S-61, S-62, and S-58 commercial helicopter programs with the responsibility for controlling performance requirements, delivery schedules and cost targets for these aircraft. He was promoted to commercial marketing manager in 1971 and to vice president, commercial marketing, in 1974.

He took over as senior vice president, marketing, in charge of all Sikorsky marketing efforts in 1976 including the successful development and production contracts of the new technology helicopters for the military - the Army's UH-60A Black Hawk, the Navy/Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion, and the Navy's SH-60B Seahawk.

Later appointments were as executive vice president, president and chief executive officer of Sikorsky and then senior vice president of Defense Systems, president and chief operating officer at UTC. In 1986 he became UTC chief executive officer before assuming his present post of chairman of the board in 1987. Daniell is a director of The Travels Inc. and Shell Oil Co. He is a member of the Conference Board, the Business Council, the Wings Club of New York City and a director of the Connecticut Business for Education Coalition Inc.

Milton Garland '20, is a senior consultant for technical services at Frick Co., a pioneer firm in industrial refrigeration. Garland interrupted his WPI education to serve in the U.S. Navy as a machinist's mate during World War I and graduated in 1920 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

He began his career with Frick Co. that same year 1920 and spent his entire career there as erecting engineer, superintendent of field erection and chief engineer. At his formal retirement in 1967, he was vice president for technical services. Since then he has been active as a senior consultant for technical services and organized Frick service schools for those who service the company's equipment throughout the industry.

Garland, who helped to create the frozen food industry, has been honored with the unofficial title "Mr. Refrigeration" by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).During his years with Frick, he was responsible for 37 refrigeration-related patents, either alone or with others. He designed and developed some of the first commercial ice rinks in the U.S.

Early in his career he helped breweries convert to nonalcoholic product lines during Prohibition and then converted then back to brewing beer when the amendment was repealed. He worked on the liquefaction of natural gas and assisted in the development of refrigeration technology for Padre Vineyards in California.

A registered professional engineer, he is a life member and fellow of ASHRAE and the recipient of its prestigious F. Paul Anderson Award for Scientific Achievement, which recognizes lifelong contributions to the advancement of environmental technology. In 1971 he received ASHRAE's distinguished service award and was honored this year as one of ASHRAE's three centenarians.

Paul S. Morgan is the fourth generation of the Morgan family to be involved with WPI. He served as a trustee for 25 years from 1966 to 1991; was vice chairman from 1971 to 1978; and chairman from 1978 to 1983. The family and the company have been associated with WPI since the Institute's founding in 1865. Paul's son, Philip R. Morgan, presently serves on the board.

Commissioned as an ensign from Harvard University in 1944, Paul Morgan served in the Pacific during World War II aboard a destroyer escort. After the war he entered the steel industry and joined the family owned Morgan Construction Co., which creates the "machines behind the machines"--designing continuous rolling mills for worldwide use, oil-film bearings under the name Morgoil, and universal joints and drive spindles for worldwide oil-field and rolling-mill applications.

In 1984 Morgan received the WPI Award from the Board of Trustees and the Alumni Association. He was cited for having given unsparingly of his time, energy, and expertise as chairman of the Board of Trustees. The citation noted his efforts as fund-raising chairman of the "Plan to Restore the Balance, " which exceeded its $18.5 million goal; his dedication as director of Jobs for Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Higher Education Loan Plan and the American Farm School in Greece; and his "ability to ask the testing questions, tackle the difficult and accomplish it with seeming ease."

Morgan has led an active and productive professional and civic life. He has served as director and trustee on numerous boards, including the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, the Higgins Armory, the Worcester YMCA and Prospect House, is a former Worcester City Councilor, and chaired the Worcester Charter Commission in 1985-1986. In 1989 he and his wife, Anne M. "Nancy" Morgan received the Isaiah Thomas Award for distinguished community service, the city's most prestigious civic award.