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McKelvey School of Engineering

Wednesdays with WashU: Robert L. Behnken

Wednesday, November 11, 2020 | 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Wednesdays with WashU is a webinar series featuring Washington University alumni, faculty and parents from around the world. Join us to engage with inspiring members of the university community.

Join us for a conversation between Chancellor Andrew D. Martin and Robert L. Behnken, BS ’92, BS ’92, (Colonel, U.S. Air Force) NASA Astronaut. The two will discuss Colonel Behnken's experience as a NASA astronaut and his most recent Spaceflight experience as a member of the SpaceX Crew Dragon, Demo-2 mission, which landed August 2, 2020. 

A St. Louis native, Colonel Behnken attended WashU as an Air Force ROTC scholar. Behnken earned bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and engineering physics and was the university’s Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Senior. He was awarded the engineering Young Alumni Award in 2009 and the Founder’s Day Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


McKelvey School of Engineering



Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, University Advancement
Event Contact


Speaker Information

About Robert L. Behnken
Robert L. Behnken was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2000 and is a veteran of two space shuttle flights. A native of Missouri, Behnken flew STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010, logging more than 708 hours in space, and more than 37 hours during six spacewalks. Behnken most recently served as Joint Operations Commander on the first crewed flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the Demo-2 mission, which landed August 2, 2020. He also served as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 63.

Colonel Behnken’s thesis research was on control of rotating stall and surge in compressor systems. The research included nonlinear analysis, real-time software development, and hardware construction. During his first two years of graduate study, Colonel Behnken developed control algorithms and hardware for flexible robotic manipulators.

Read the rest of Behnken's bio on the event website

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Gloria Stukenbroeker

Gloria Stukenbroeker left a positive review 11/10/2020

This conversation was very interesting. WashU has some amazing alums!

Johanna Sengheiser

Johanna Sengheiser left a positive review 11/10/2020

This was so interesting! I'm not an engineer, but work for McKelvey. I am always excited to hear about what alumni are up to and Bob told such great stories that weren't technical and above my head.

Rob C Maher

Rob C Maher left a positive review 11/10/2020

Very interesting and informative. I was pleased that the interviewers allowed Col. Behnken to do most of the talking: he is the reason we joined the presentation! Col. Behnken's remarks were honest and encouraging.

Jeff Gillis-Davis

Jeff Gillis-Davis left a review 11/10/2020

The multiple intros added up to be too long. It was more of a conversation between Behnken and Chancellor Martin. I would have liked more questions from the audience. I think that would have been more engaging.