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University of Missouri

Landing at Mizzou

Former NASA astronauts Linda Godwin and Steven Nagel bring a jet engine to Mizzou.

Engine

College of Engineering hands-on learning took a leap forward when former astronauts Linda Godwin and Steven Nagel used NASA connections to bring a jet engine to campus. Photo by Rob Hill.

When former NASA astronauts Linda Godwin, MS ’76, PhD ’80, and Steven Nagel joined MU’s faculty, certain perks were assumed.

Maybe the husband and wife would allow impromptu interrogations about space travel and bring along a couple pieces that had circled Earth’s orbit.

But few, including Nagel and Godwin, envisioned Mizzou engineering students having the opportunity to analytically dissect a former NASA jet engine.

College of Engineering hands-on learning took a leap forward when former astronauts Linda Godwin and Steven Nagel used NASA connections to bring a jet engine to campus.

The pair collectively musters more than 60 years of experience as astronauts. Godwin took her first trip into outer space in 1991.

“You wait and wait and wait,” she says. “To finally get there, you think, ‘Wow, we finally made it.’ ” She flew to the former Russian space station, Mir, in 1996.

For Godwin, returning to the university to teach in fall 2011 made her feel like she had come full circle.

Her husband soon followed. Nagel worked at NASA for 33 years; he spent 15 in aircraft operations. He asked former co-workers in the engine shop if he could have a few out-of-use parts to apply in the classroom. They dug for scraps.

“And then one of them asked, ‘Would you like a whole engine?’

“All the university had to pay for was the shipping,” Nagel says. And voilà, mechanical engineering students can study aerospace propulsion utilizing an actual jet engine.