Ronald McNair Program

The History of Ronald McNair

Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair, Physicist and Astronaut, dared to dream. In 1971, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from North Carolina AT&T State University with a B.S. in physics. In 1976, at the age of 26, he earned his Ph.D. in laser physics from M.I.T. 

Dr. McNair soon became a recognized expert in laser physics while working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratory. He was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978 and was a mission specialist aboard the 1987 flight of the shuttle Challenger.

After his death in the Challenger explosion in January 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage college students with backgrounds similar to Dr. McNair's to enroll in graduate studies. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair's life.

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