Google Honors Mary G. Ross, First American Indian Female Engineer

Aug 9, 2018 - 7:04 am 0 by
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Google Mary G. Ross Logo

On the home page on in the United States is a special Google logo, Doodle, for Mary G. Ross. Mary Ross was the first Native American female engineer. She was most well known for her work on interplanetary space travel, manned and unmanned earth-orbiting flights, and orbiting satellites.

Today would be her 110th birthday and to celebrate her life and contributions, Google has a special Google Doodle for her. It showcases her designs that helped lead to interplanetary space travel. She has a huge set of awards including Silicon Valley Engineering Council’s Hall of Fame, 1992, Fellow and life member of the Society of Women Engineers, and others. She worked for Lockheed Corporation, in 1942 and joined their Advanced Development Program named Skunk Works in 1952. She was born on August 9, 1908 in Park Hill, Oklahoma and passed at the age of 99 on April 29, 2008 in Los Altos, CA.

Google wrote:

Today’s Doodle celebrates the 110th birthday of Mary G. Ross, the first American Indian female engineer, whose major contributions to the aerospace industry include the development of concepts for interplanetary space travel, manned and unmanned earth-orbiting flights, and orbiting satellites.

Great-great granddaughter to Chief John Ross of the Cherokee Nation, Ross was born on this day in 1917. Her math skills were surpassed only by her passion for aviation and the sciences. After teaching in Oklahoma for 9 years, she attended the University of Northern Colorado to pursue her master’s degree and love for astronomy and rocket science.

During World War II, Ross was hired by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation as a mathematician. It was there that she was encouraged to earn her professional certification in aeronautical engineering from UCLA in 1949, after which she broke new ground as one of the 40 founding members of the top-secret Skunk Works team. Her work on the team included developing initial design concepts for interplanetary space travel (including flyby missions to Venus and Mars) and satellites including the Agena rocket (depicted in today’s Doodle). "Often at night there were four of us working until 11 p.m.," she later recounted. "I was the pencil pusher, doing a lot of research. My state of the art tools were a slide rule and a Frieden computer. We were taking the theoretical and making it real."

Leading by example, Ross also opened doors for future generations of women and American Indians by participating in efforts to encourage their pursuits in STEM fields, including being a member and Fellow of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). In 1992 the SWE established a scholarship in Ross’s name, which aims to support future female engineers and technologists, including Aditi Jain, a current Google Maps engineer. “More than money, it gave me confidence,” says Jain who earned a degree in Math and Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University “I don’t think I considered myself an engineer until I received the scholarship.”

Here’s to Mary G. Ross, a pioneer who reached for the stars and whose legacy continues to inspire others to do the same.

Forum discussion at Twitter.


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