Leland Melvin

Astronaut & S.T.E.A.M. education advocate
Leland Melvin

About Leland

Leland Melvin’s first NASA job was as an engineer at Langley Research Center, where he focused on nondestructive testing, creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles. He joined NASA’s astronaut training program in 1998 but an underwater training incident made him deaf, disqualifying him from space flight. His hearing improved over the years and, after he was medically cleared, Melvin logged over 565 hours aboard the shuttle Atlantis in 2008 and 2009. He was appointed head of NASA Education in 2010 and served as co-chair of a White House task force—Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education—developing the nation’s five-year STEM education plan. Melvin was also the US representative and chair of the International Space Education Board. He has a BSc in chemistry and a master’s in materials science engineering, as well as five honorary doctorates for his service in education, the sciences, and philanthropy. Before becoming an astronaut, Melvin was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986 to play professional football but a hamstring injury thwarted his NFL career with Detroit and then later with the Dallas Cowboys. Currently, he’s host of the Lifetime  television series Child Genius, and a judge for ABC TV’s competition series BattleBots.