September 21, 2004

WHITMAN ALUM, CHIEF ENGINEER AT NASA’S JET PROPULSION LAB ROB MANNING SCHEDULED TO SPEAK AT WHITMAN OCTOBER 4

    WALLA WALLA, Wash.-- Rob Manning, chief engineer with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and a 1980 graduate of Whitman College, will present a public lecture, “Journey to the Red Planet,” when he visits campus Monday, Oct. 4.

    Manning, who served as the entry, descent and landing manager for last January’s Mars exploration mission’s rovers Spirit and Opportunity, will speak at 7 p.m. in the Stevens Ballroom, Reid Campus Center, 280 Boyer Ave., Whitman College campus.

    Manning, who grew up in Northwestern Washington, took advantage of Whitman’s “3-2” engineering program in which he earned two degrees, a BA and a BS in five years of study, three at Whitman and two at the California Institute of Technology. While he was studying at Caltech in California, the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, offered him a part-time position as a draftsman of the Galileo spacecraft schematics, a job he held when he graduated from Caltech. He has since advanced to his present position at JPL.

    In a Walla Walla Union-Bulletin article last January, Manning was quoted as saying that the self-discipline and study skills he developed at Whitman led to his fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a space engineer. In an earlier biography published on JPL’s webpage, Manning said that, although he considered himself a “mediocre” high school student, once he was admitted to Whitman he began to believe he could become an engineer, and worked very hard to make it happen. “I literally lived in the college (Penrose) library under a portrait of the great Indian Chief Joseph. He was very stern and seemed to encourage me not to lose sight of my goals. I didn’t. Whitman was a fantastic experience and a in a few short years I transferred down to Caltech.”

CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156

Email: parishlj@whitman.edu