Ronald E. McNair Bio

“Before you can make a dream come true, you must first have one.” Dr. Ronald E. McNair

In 1986, in memory of Ronald Ervin McNair, the U.S Congress established the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, commonly known as the TRiO McNair Scholars Program.

Dr. Ronald E. McNair’s career as a scholar and astronaut stands as an inspiration to all McNair Program participants.  Ronald McNair, the second African American to fly in space, was born on October 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina.

He was named the valedictorian of his high school class and went on to graduate magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University.

In 1976 McNair completed all requirements for the Ph.D. degree in physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and joined the Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California as a scientist.

Dr. McNair received multiple honorary doctorates of Science and of Law. In 1979 McNair was named Distinguished National Scientist by the National Society of Black Professional Engineers.

Ronald McNair completed the training and evaluation course for shuttle mission specialists and began working at the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory and later went on to work for NASA. Even though Dr. McNair’s awards and special recognitions are numerous, he will be best remembered as being among those who died on January 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after the launch. Dr. Ronald E. McNair was a mission specialist on that flight.

His lifelong commitment to scholarship lives on in the McNair Scholars who are selected each year to participate in the many McNair Programs across the United States.