​​NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa, an alumna of San Diego State University, has made history twice; she was the first Hispanic woman to go into space, and now she is the first Hispanic and second female to direct the NASA Johnson Space Center. Ochoa is the veteran of four American space flights and logged nearly 1,000 hours in space.

As director of NASA's Johnson Space Center, Ochoa is recognized as an effective NASA ambassador, delivering more than 300 speeches promoting science and engineering careers. Four schools bear her name in California, Washington and Texas.

Ochoa has been recognized with several NASA awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal, Exceptional Service Medal, Outstanding Leadership Medal, and four Space Flight Medals. She is also a recipient of numerous awards, including the Harvard Foundation Science Award, Women in Aerospace Outstanding Achievement Award, the Hispanic Engineer Albert Baez Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution to Humanity, the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award, and San Diego State University Alumna of the Year.

After graduating in 1980 with her bachelor’s degree in physics from San Diego State, she earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Stanford. She is the co-inventor of three patented optical analysis systems and the author of numerous technical papers.

Ochoa serves on the board of Service Corporation International, is an ex-officio board​ member of the Houston Technology Center and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, and is Director Emerita of the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, Inc., which operates Space Center Houston. She is also chair of the Nomination Evaluation Committee for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.