Leland’s story is a fascinating look at how perseverance and passion led him from the NFL to NASA. Before becoming an astronaut, he played professional football with the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. Armed with a BS in Chemistry and a MS in Materials Science Engineering, he traveled off-planet twice on Space Shuttle Atlantis to help build the International Space Station. By working on such high stakes teams, Leland developed a deep and nuanced understanding of effective team dynamics.
Upon hanging up his space boots, he led NASA Education and co-chaired the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEM Education Task Force, developing the nation’s 5-year STEM education plan.
After 24 years with NASA as a researcher, astronaut and Senior Executive Service leader, he shares his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer, and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue STEAM careers.
[Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.]