Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Chang-Diaz was born in San Jose, Costa Rica to a Chinese-Hispanic father and Hispanic mother, and moved to the United States to finish his high school education. He earned a BS degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1973, and a Ph.D. in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1977. For is graduate research at MIT, Chang-Diaz worked in the field of fusion technology and plasma-based rocket propulsion.
Chang-Diaz was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980 and first flew aboard STS-61-C in 1986. Subsequent missions include STS-34 (1989), STS-46 (1992), STS-60 (1994), STS-75 (1996), STS-91 (1998) and STS-111 (2002). During STS-111, he performed three EVAs as part of the construction of the International Space Station. Chang-Diaz is also an adjunct professor of physics at Rice University and at the University of Houston, and director of the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center.
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