Friday  Oct. 25, 2019 
10:00 am
Providence United
Methodist Church

Friday, October 25 

Joan Higginbotham
Electrical Engineer,
NASA Astronaut (retired)

Motivational Speaker


 Joan Higginbotham was born in Chicago, IL, and enjoys motivational speaking, working out, and a variety of music genres. 


She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIU-C), a Master of Science Degree in Management from the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), a Master of Science Degree in Space Systems from FIT, an Honorary Doctorate in Aerospace Science from SIU-C, and an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from the University of New Orleans. 


COLLINS AEROSPACE EXPERIENCE:  In November 2018, UTC Aerospace Systems acquired Rockwell Collins and the integrated company was renamed Collins Aerospace.  Ms. Higginbotham was assigned to the Customer and Account Management function where she manages the relationships with governmental agencies and human exploration companies. 


UTC AEROSPACE SYSTEMS EXPERIENCE:  Joan joined UTC Aerospace Systems on October 2, 2017, as Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  She worked closely with strategic stakeholders and executive leadership across UTC Aerospace Systems’ business units and functions to ensure alignment and coordination of all internal and external community programs, focusing on creating a stronger corporate social responsibility identity that delivered social impact in key markets around the world.  



NASA EXPERIENCE:  Joan Higginbotham began her career in 1987 at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, as a Payload Electrical Engineer in the Electrical and Telecommunications Systems Division. Within six months she became the lead for the Orbiter Experiments (OEX) on OV-102, the Space Shuttle Columbia. She later worked on the shuttle payload bay reconfiguration for all shuttle missions and conducted electrical compatibility tests for all payloads flown aboard the shuttle. She was tasked by KSC management to undertake several special assignments where she served as the Executive Staff Assistant to the Director of Shuttle Operations and Management, led a team of engineers in performing critical analysis for the space shuttle flow in support of a simulation model tool, and worked on an interactive display detailing the space shuttle processing procedures at Spaceport USA (Kennedy Space Center’s Visitors Center). Higginbotham then served as backup orbiter project engineer for OV-104, Space Shuttle Atlantis, where she participated in the integration of the orbiter docking station (ODS) into the space shuttle used during Shuttle/Mir docking missions. Two years later, she was promoted to lead orbiter project engineer for OV-102, Space Shuttle Columbia. In this position, she held the technical lead government engineering position in the firing room where she supported and managed the integration of vehicle testing and troubleshooting. She actively participated in 53 space shuttle launches during her 9-year tenure at Kennedy Space Center.



Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Joan reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. She was assigned technical duties in the Payloads & Habitability Branch, the Shuttle Avionics & Integration Laboratory, the Kennedy Space Center Operations Support Branch, where she tested various modules of the International Space Station for operability, compatibility, and functionality prior to launch, the Astronaut Office CAPCOM (Capsule Communicator) Branch in the startup and support of numerous space station missions and space shuttle missions, the Robotics Branch, and Lead for the International Space Station Systems Crew Interfaces Section. Joan has logged over 308 hours in space having completed her first mission with the crew of STS-116 where her primary task was to operate the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) aka the robotic arm.


Joan was assigned to the STS-126 mission targeted for launch in September 2008; however, in November 2007, she retired from 20-year distinguished career with NASA in order to pursue a career at Marathon Oil Company.



SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE:  STS-116 Discovery (December 9-22, 2006).  The seven-member crew on this nearly 13-day mission continued construction of the ISS outpost by adding the P5 spacer truss segment during the first of four spacewalks. The next two spacewalks rewired the station’s power system, preparing it to support the addition of European and Japanese science modules by future shuttle crews. The fourth spacewalk was added to allow the crew to coax and retract a stubborn solar panel to fold up accordion-style into its box. Discovery also delivered a new crew member and more than two tons of equipment and supplies to the station. Almost two tons of items no longer needed on the station returned to Earth on STS-116. Mission duration was 12 days, 20 hours and 45 minutes.



  • Association of Space Explorers (ASE), Life Member
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina                        (EDPNC)
  • Johnson C. Smith University, Board of Visitors
  • The Links, Incorporated, Crown Jewels ChapteR


  • AT&T Heritage Calendar Honoree
  • Charlotte’s 50 Most Influential Women
  • Inductee National Association of Negro Business and                             Professional Women’s History Hall of Fame
  • St. Augustine University’s Heritage Award Recipient
  • Savoy Magazine’s 2012 Top Influential Women in Corporate               America
  • Featured in the ‘America I Am: The African American Imprint’           Exhibit, Harvey Gantt Center for African
  • American Arts & Culture,    Charlotte, NC
  • Honored with displays at the DuSable Museum of African-                   American History in Chicago, IL, and the Buffalo
  • Soldier Museum in Houston, TX
  • World Who’s Who of Women
  • Who’s Who in Black Houston
  • Appeared in Alicia Key’s ‘Superwoman’ video
  • More Magazine/Wilhelmina Model Search Semi-finalist
  • Honored by President George W. Bush at the 81st                                 White House Black History Month Celebration
  • Women of Color in Technology Career Achievement Award                 Recipient
  • National Technical Association’s Technical Achiever (Engineer)
  • National Space Medal
  • Essence Magazine’s Top 50 Women of 2004
  • Southern Illinois University’s Distinguished Alumni



2020 Memberships will be available at our Friday meeting.
Please arrive early.
Renewals are $20 per person and new memberships are $30 (includes $10 for name tag). You can either pay by check made payable to Senior Scholars or pay in cash. If paying in cash please have the exact amount. Having to make change slows down the process and we have limited cash on hand.
You can speed up the membership process by bringing a completed membership form:
If renewing please give us any updated address, phone number or email if you have made changes.
Your 2019 membership card is good through the end of 2019.
You can also renew or join by mail. The address is on the membership form. If you renew or join by mail you will need to stop by the Membership Desk
to pick up your new membership card. Your membership card is what gets you in the door at our weekly meetings. It shows that you are a current member. 
We have quite a few name tags that have never been picked up. If we are holding yours please come get it. Your name tag lets us know who you are and as some of us have "senior moments" it is much easier to converse if we know your name. Please always wear your name tag. If the magnet is a problem for you we have a remedy.
Any questions can be directed to the membership chair, Sara Haymond, at

Lunch Bunch

October 25th

Ruth McDevitt

at the lunch table

November 21, 2019 

Leaving 10 AM from the Queens University Sports Complex


Learn about the founding of the institution, listen to music & watch videos from the greatest artists in North Carolina history. See exhibits from pioneering older artists to the memorabilia from some of today's most well known entertainers such as Charlie Daniels, Nina Simone, Chairman of the Board, Clyde McPhatter, Donna Fargo, Thelonius Monk, and Victoria Livengood. Learn about the rich tradition of great music and influential artists from North Carolina.  


The group will stop for a "Dutch Treat" lunch in Kannaoplis.

Save the Dates

April 27 to April 30, 2020

Wildacres Retreat

Registration opens January 2020

Cost: $250 per person Double Occupancy

Topics: TBD

2019 Kindle version  
now available to download
from Kindle for $12.99

Topics 2019

Refugees and Global Migration

The Middle East: Regional Disorder

Nuclear negotiations:
Back to the Future

The Rise of Populism in Europe
Decoding U.S.-China Trade

India and Its Neighbors

Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics

The United State and Mexico: Partnership Tested

State of the State Department
and Diplomacy
Topics 2020

Climate Change and the Global Order 

India and Pakistan 

Red Sea Security 

Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

U.S. Relations with the
Northern Triangle 

China’s Road into Latin America

The Philippines and the U.S. 

Artificial Intelligence and Data 


Senior Scholars Meets Friday Mornings 10 AM - 11 AM

Providence UMC, 2810 Providence Rd. Charlotte NC  28211

Queens University  1900 Selwyn Avenue MSC 1409 Charlotte, NC 28274

What’s going on at Queens University?


Email address:

1900 Selwyn Avenue MSC 1409 , Charlotte, NC, 28274