NASA Astronaut K. Megan McArthur ’93 Presents UCLA Engineering with a Mini IMP that Flew in Orbit

Nov 13, 2009

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

NASA astronaut and UCLA Engineering Alumna K. Megan McArthur presented the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science with an object that flew with her on Space Shuttle Atlantis earlier this year.

The object, presented on November 6 at the school’s annual awards dinner, is a miniature model of the Interface Message Processor (IMP), which sent the first message on the Internet from UCLA in 1969. Accepting the IMP were UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, Dean Vijay K. Dhir, and Professor Leonard Kleinrock, who led the team that sent the first Internet message.

At the dinner, McArthur spoke about the recent mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. She operated the shuttle’s robotic arm that captured the Telescope and brought it to the shuttle. She also spoke about her time at UCLA and how that helped propel her into her career in space exploration.

In 2008, the school held a contest for students to come up with ideas for an object that McArthur would take with her into orbit. Nima Nikzad ’09 and Sachin Thakkar ’09, who were then seniors majoring in computer science and officers with the Association for Computing Machinery, won the contest with their design of a miniature IMP. The design commemorates UCLA Engineering’s critical role in the creation of the Internet, as well as recognizing the importance of the Internet now, and in the future.

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