Woodrow Whitlow, Jr., 1974
Woodrow Whitlow, Jr. '74, MS '75, PhD '79 was born in Michigan, he is the son of two custodial workers. Early on he dreamed of becoming a chemist, but the space missions of the 1960s inspired him to aim for a career as an astronaut. Whitlow earned his Bachelors degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1974, the same year his mother earned her high-school degree. He continued his studies in aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, earning his Masters (1975) and PhD (1979) degrees under Professor Wesley L. Harris.
Woody Whitlow had what it takes to be an MIT faculty member, but he chose to go to NASA after he got his doctoral degree.
Leon Trilling, MIT Professor of Aeronautics and Astronomics Emeritus, in Technology and the Dream (MIT Press, 1996)
Whitlow had a life-long career at NASA, beginning in 1979 until his retirement in 2013. He was awarded a NASA Distinguished Service Honor Medal, the agency's highest honor.