U.S. Astronaut Inspires Turkish Students to “Reach for the Stars” in STEM Fields 

U.S. Consulate General Istanbul
October 6, 2023 

Former Astronaut Dorothy “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenburger visited Türkiye this week as part of the U.S. Mission in Türkiye’s initiative to inspire students, especially young women, to “reach for the stars” by pursuing studies in STEM fields.  This initiative coincides with the centennial anniversary of the Turkish Republic and is designed to foster increased scientific and cultural cooperation between Türkiye and the United States, advancing innovation and excellence through strong people-to-people ties.

Metcalf-Lindenburger attended space and science themed events as a speaker in Izmir, Ankara, Adana, Iskenderun, Bursa, and Istanbul to promote international cooperation on space exploration and STEM education, as well as share her personal experience as an astronaut.  A teacher, Metcalf-Lindenburger flew with the crew of STS-131 to the International Space Station in 2010 and has been a strong advocate for increasing opportunities for women and girls in STEM.

Metcalf-Lindenburger spoke at TEKNOFEST in Izmir and was impressed by the passion of Turkish youth for technology, aviation, and space.  She shared her story with young engineers, scientists, and people working in technology and mathematics, telling her audience, “Do the things that you want to do because they really can come true. It will take time, it will take effort, it will take a lot of hard work, but it’s worth doing.”

In Ankara, she paid a courtesy call visit to the TUBITAK Space Technologies and Research Center before visiting Middle East Technical University, where she met with leadership of the university and offered a seminar with students titled “Launching Your Big Dreams.”  On her second day in Ankara, she spoke with young women and civil society leaders interested in STEM at Ankara Metropolitan Municipality’s Techno Bridge and visited the Ministry of Youth and Sports Educational Institute for a question-and-answer session with university students.

In Adana, Metcalf-Lindenburger gave a presentation at Çukurova University Teknokent inspiring students, professors, and scientists to become innovators.  She also imparted advice and encouragement to the Adana organizers of the upcoming NASA SpaceApps Challenge.  In the afternoon, she headed to Iskenderun, where she met with approximately 200 students and professors at Iskenderun Technical University.  While in Bursa, Metcalf-Lindenburger visited the Gökmen Space and Aviation Training Center (GUHEM) where she shared her personal astronaut story and the importance of STEM in education with 120 local middle school and high school students and answered their questions about space exploration.

On the last day of her week-long Türkiye tour, Metcalf-Lindenburger met with more than 300 enthusiastic Üsküdar American High School students in Istanbul, hosted a town hall with university students at Istanbul Technical University (ITU), and visited ITU’s Space Systems Design and Test Lab.

The U.S. Speaker Program is an initiative by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that helps U.S. embassies and consulates around the world engage foreign audiences.  U.S. speakers represent a broad range of fields and expertise and are leaders in their sectors and communities.

The U.S. Department of State and NASA work with international partners to establish a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space.  Engaging young audiences and creating new partnerships in STEM fields adds new energy and capabilities to this effort, ensuring the entire world can benefit from our journey of exploration and discovery.