CORVALLIS, Ore. – U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Susan J. Helms, one of the highest-ranking women in the armed forces and an Air Force leader with key areas of responsibility for the national defense, will deliver a public talk on Thursday, June 5, at Oregon State University’s La Sells Stewart Center, beginning at 4 p.m.
Helms -- commander of the 45th Space Wing and director of the Eastern Range, Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, all in Florida -- will speak on current issues affecting the Air Force, as well as career opportunities in engineering, science and space operations in a Q&A-driven, hour-long talk. Her lecture is being co-sponsored by the U.S. Air Force ROTC and the OSU College of Engineering and is free and open to the public.
Helms is one of only 20 women generals serving in the Air Force today. A former astronaut who has logged five space flights and more than 5,000 hours in space, including a space walk of nearly nine hours – a world record -- she became the first woman military official in space, flying aboard the Endeavour space shuttle in 1993 to deploy a $200 million NASA tracking and data relay satellite. She served aboard the International Space Station in 2001, spending a total of 163 days there with a joint American and Russian crew.
Though she was born in Charlotte, N.C., Helms graduated from Parkrose Senior High School in Portland and considers that city her hometown. She was among the first women admitted to the Air Force Academy in Colorado and was also among its first graduates, earning a B.S. in aeronautical engineering in 1980. She went on to complete a master’s degree in aeronautics/astronautics from Stanford in 1985.
Helms has also served as deputy director of operations for Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, overseeing education and technical training policy for Air University and Technical Training at 11 Air Force bases for some 250,000 students annually. Earlier in her career, she likewise served on the faculty of the Air Force Academy, teaching aeronautics.
“We’re honored that Brigadier Gen. Helms will be visiting our campus and that both our cadets and other interested students will have an opportunity to hear directly from one of the Air Force’s most senior leaders,” said Lt. Col. Dave Jeffrey, commander of Air Force ROTC at OSU. “Through her service, she provides an outstanding example of the kind of highly scientific, technically advanced career that is possible in the Air Force for both men and women.”