FISHERS, Ind. (Thursday, March 3, 2016) – Jocelyn Dunn is well on her way to becoming an astronaut, a dream she’s had since she was a young girl. At age 28, the Purdue University industrial engineering doctoral student has accomplished some impressive feats, earning a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, a master’s degree in biomedical engineering and living eight months in a simulated Martian habitat.
In 2014, Dunn and a team of five other researchers lived in abandoned quarry about 8,000 feet above sea level in a domed structure on a volcano slope on the Big Island of Hawaii. The team was part of a NASA-funded study of human factors that affect team performance during long-term space travel, like a mission to Mars.
“We as a team went out and explored the area in full space suits as if we were the first Mars explorers,” Dunn said. “We would get tasks assigned to us from our Mission Control and explore the terrain. This was the most astronaut-like thing that we did and the most enjoyable part for me was putting on the suit and feeling all of the physical and mental challenges of exploring.”
Nearly 1,200 girls with aspirations mirroring Dunn’s when she was young can talk with female science and technology leaders and participate in hands-on, interactive activities March 5 at the third annual Passport to Hi-Tech, a partnership between Conner Prairie and Women & Hi Tech.