Leland has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a Master’s degree in Materials Science Engineering. He worked at NASA Langley Research Center in the area of nondestructive testing creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles with his work being published in numerous scientific journals. Leland has traveled on two Space Shuttle missions to help build the International Space Station. After hanging up his space boots, as the head of NASA Education he served as the co-chair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEM Education Task Force and was the United States representative and chair of the International Space Education Board (ISEB). Before becoming an astronaut Leland was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 1986 College Draft to play professional football but a hamstring injury thwarted his NFL career with Detroit and then later with the Dallas Cowboys. He is the only person drafted into the National Football League to have flown in space. He uses his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEM) careers.