University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


KHOU Interviews Professor Using Space Fiction to Motivate Aerospace Students


Natalie Thayer

With NASA’s recent confirmation of water on Mars and the theatrical release of the cinematic block buster The Martian, human exploration of Mars has been a hot topic for space enthusiasts.

KHOU recently interviewed Bonnie Dunbar, director of the University of Houston’s Aerospace Engineering Graduate Program and SICSA Space Architecture Program, about her STEM-focused curriculum this fall semester and her thoughts on the future of human space travel to Mars.

Dunbar assigned her students the space fiction novel The Martian by Andy Weir that inspired Ridley Scott’s movie of the same name. The novel has been lauded for Weir’s acute attention to scientific detail and the movie adaptation, which remained close to the source material, relied heavily on scientific input from NASA, even filming several scenes on site at NASA Johnson Space Center. Dunbar said she saw the story as a "potential engineering teaching tool and a worthy dose of inspiration for her engineering students.”

Watch the full interview at



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