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MEDIA ADVISORY: Astronaut, and Cal alum, Rex Walheim to address December commencement

ATTENTION: Assignment desks

02 December 2002
Contact: Media Relations
(510) 642-3734


A keynote speech at the University of California, Berkeley's December graduation ceremony by astronaut Rex Walheim, an electrical engineer and NASA mission specialist. A UC Berkeley alumnus, Walheim unfurled a Cal flag in space last spring while on a 10-day, 4.5-million-mile mission to the International Space Station in the Space Shuttle "Atlantis."

Some 2,800 students are eligible to graduate from UC Berkeley mid-year, and all are invited back in the spring for formal commencement ceremonies. An estimated 400 people are expected to attend this annual event, called December Convocation. Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl also will speak.


The ceremony will run from 5-6:30 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 6.


Zellerbach Playhouse, near the Haas Pavilion at Spieker Plaza.


From April 8-19, 2002, Walheim participated in NASA's 13th trip to the International Space Station, where his team bolted down the new SO (S-Zero) Truss, which eventually will hold the space station's solar panels, provided vital power and data connections, and prepared the station for future walks. According to NASA, it was also the first time the station's robotic arm was used to maneuver spacewalkers around the station and the first time that all of a shuttle crew's spacewalks were based from the station's Quest Airlock.

Walheim received his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley in 1984. As a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, he was assigned in May 1984 to Johnson Space Center, where he worked as a mechanical systems flight controller and was the lead operations engineer for the Space Shuttle's landing gear, brakes and emergency runway barrier. Walheim was selected in 1991 for the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. Upon graduation, he went to the F-16 Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, first as a project manager and then as commander of the avionics and armament flight. In January 1996, Walheim became an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, where he served until he commenced his astronaut training at Johnson Space Center. Since earning his astronaut wings, he has logged several hundred hours in space.