Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. I don't normally post off-topic things, but this particular subject hits home for me. No, not because the first computer language I learned in college was Ada 95. It's because I admire what a certain rocket scientist whom I call my sister has done.
A mechanical engineer by degree, she worked as an intern for a summer at NASA on the shuttle's solid rocket boosters and knew exactly who she wanted to work for when she graduated. Unfortunately politics and the federal budget left her hanging for 2 years, but she finally got the call and went to work at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. She spent many years working on nuclear propulsion systems for probes destined for the outer planets of our solar system while working her way up the NASA ladder and earning a Master of Mechanical Engineering degree to boot. Today, after 18 years, she's a Branch Chief in NASA's Propulsion Thermal Analysis group and won't tell me what she's working in - though in all fairness she can't because it's classified.
Not only do I admire what she's accomplished technically, but that she's excelled in what is normally regarded as a a male dominated field and a NASA management culture that has a reputation for…well, lots of things that prompt talent to depart for the private industry. She's worked hard to get where she is and is the kind of role model that young women interested in science can look up to.
Great job, sis!