She’s one of the dopest engineers NASA’s seen thus far!

Dajae Williams is an accidental engineer. Her freshman year at Kirkwood High School in Missouri a teacher enrolled her in honors geometry by mistake, and that changed her life. Now, the 26-year-old is working at NASA as a rocket scientist and traveling the country speaking to young people about math and science using music. 

“Sometimes I still have to pinch myself,” she told reporters. “It’s always an exhilarating experience being around so many smart people, just being present, and taking it all in because there is so much to learn.” 

The native of St. Louis now lives in Los Angeles where she is a quality engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, which was made possible by the company’s Early Career Initiative program. She is one of the few Black people and one of the youngest to work at the research facility. 

“Look, there are some pretty dope people that I work with across all of the NASA campuses, but I’m pretty sure that I’m the dopest,” Williams told St. Louis Public Radio.

She’s not kidding, she’s been able to translate difficult math and science theories into easy to remember, and catchy, hip-hop songs. Teachers, students, and even her coworkers, have become enamored with her tunes. Recently, Williams was selected as a keynote speaker to share her story with the Science Teachers Association of Texas. She discussed how difficult it was growing up as one of the few Black people in a school district and how the lack of cultural awareness caused disconnect between her and her teachers. 

“Sometimes education can be, at least in math and science, it can be a very traumatic experience…especially for kids of color. We’re not necessarily taught in the language that we learned growing up,” she explained to St. Louis Public Radio as to why she enjoys working with children. “Your teachers don’t look like you, they don’t understand where you’re coming from. So I’ve seen some pretty traumatic things, and I also have experienced some trauma myself in education, so to see the kids dancing and laughing when it comes to education…that is honestly what brings me joy.”

She began using music to help her in class in high school.  Then went on to perfect her raps while studying at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla where she was studying engineering management with an emphasis in industrial engineering. There she took Soulja Boy Tell’em’s popular “Crank That” beat and added lyrics on how to solve the quadratic equation, which went viral on social media.

Williams’ first love was music, she wanted to be a producer, but after seeing how well she did in math while in high school her mom encouraged her to try the STEM field due to its lack of gender and racial representation. 

“My mom convinced me to go into a STEM field,” she said. “She saw that I was getting good at math and science, so she was like, ‘Why don’t you explore this. There’s not a lot of women. There’s not a lot of black people in this field. See what you can do. See if you can make a change.’”

Her mothers motivation worked out for her in the end because now she’s able to use both her passions to make a difference. She worked on the team that helped build the ground support equipment for Sentinel-6, which is the first in a series of spacecraft that launched this past weekend to monitor our oceans. Now that she’s reached one of her dreams she pushes others to reach for the moon because they just may land in the stars.

“Put yourself out there. Apply for things that you don’t think you qualify for. Take classes that you don’t think you’re smart enough for. It will take you further than you realize.”

Source: Becauseofthemwecan.com

Dr Wendy A. Okolo is the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington and the 2019 winner of the BEYA Global Competitiveness Conference award for the most promising engineer in the United States government.

At only 26 years old, did she became the first black woman to obtain this Ph.D, where she earned both her undergraduate and doctoral degrees.

Today, the 30-year-old is an aeronautics and space administration genius. She works as an aerospace research engineer at the Ames Research Center, a major research centre for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Silicon Valley.

In her undergraduate she was president of the society of women engineers in the university.

Working in the Control Design and Analysis Branch of the AFRL – Wright Patterson Air Force Base – Okolo was part of the team that flew the world’s fastest manned aircraft, which flew from coast to coast in 67 minutes.

Okolo, then a graduate student, at first felt she had no place working with such a great team.

“I was like I am sure these guys are so smart, what am I going to bring in,” she said.

She found an error in the code in the systems and she fixed it and “that fixed the impostor syndrome for a while,” she was quoted by The Cable.

Image result for Aerospace woman wendy okolo
Wendy Okolo. Pic credit: The Cable

She received her BSc and PhD degrees in aerospace engineering from the university in 2010 and 2015 respectively.

Okolo calls her sisters all-time heroes – who gave her biology and other science lessons through their everyday realities.

She would subsequently excel in school and make tremendous moves during her undergraduate years at the University of Texas in Arlington, where she became the president of the society of women engineers in the university.

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Wendy Okolo. Pic credit: NASA

During this period, she interned at Lockheed Martin working on NASA’s Orion spacecraft and first worked in the requirements management office in systems engineering before moving to the Hatch Mechanisms team in mechanical engineering.

Okolo later worked as a summer researcher at AFRL and has since taken off her career at NASA, a United States agency responsible for the civilian space program, as well as, aeronautics and aerospace research.

Having done research in the area of aircraft formation flight as a fuel-saving method of flight, Okolo has written several publications and is currently a special emphasis programs manager in the Intelligent Systems Division of NASA’s Ames Research Center.

She is working on the System-Wide Safety (SWS) project, where she has led the task of predicting GPS faults in drones, according to The Cable. The talented engineer is further working on a Space Technology Mission Directorate Early Career Initiative (STMD-ECI) project at the Ames Research Center.

Under this role, she “leads the controls team to develop unconventional control techniques for deployable vehicles, to enable precision landing and improve maneuverability during the entry, descent, and landing phases of spaceflight.”

Okolo has also worked with Langley Research Center in Virginia to investigate flight data and facilitate data exchange across and within NASA centres.

She wants other young girls to take an active interest in science technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

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When NASA announced its newest class of astronaut candidates, it included five  inspiring women! NASA received a record-breaking number of applicants for this astronaut class — over 18,000 in all — and the class itself has twelve members, their largest since the year 2000.

“These women and men deserve our enthusiastic congratulations,” said retired astronaut and Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa. “Children all across the United States right now dream of being in their shoes someday. We here at NASA are excited to welcome them to the team and look forward to working with them to inspire the next generation of explorers.”

The astronaut candidates have two years of training in front of them before they’re ready to break Earth’s atmosphere, but in the meantime, space-loving Mighty Girls have five new role models to look up to! In this blog post, we introduce you to these five remarkably talented women. And, to inspire children who dream of their own careers in space, at the end of the post, we’ve showcased a variety of girl-empowering books and toys about shooting for the stars!

Kayla Barron, Engineer and Navy Officer

Kayla Barron already knows something about what it’s like to live in tight spaces, where a vessel wall is the only thing protecting you from a dangerous environment: the 29-year-old Navy lieutenant from Richland, Washington was one of the first class of eleven women to join the submarine service after the men-only restriction was dropped. “I really felt at home [in the submarine service],” she says. “Everyone is really talented and team-oriented.”

The same aptitudes will suit Barron, who has a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering, well as an astronaut candidate. She says her math skills weren’t the best for her confidence, however, as she worked her way into the 120 people selected for interviews and the 50 finalists: “Like a good engineer, I was always doing the math in my head and calculating the probabilities,” she recalls. “It seemed like a steep slope to climb.”

Barron wasn’t even able to take the call from NASA telling her she’d been selected, because as the aide to the superintendent of the Naval Academy, she was on the review stand for the color parade. Her reaction when she was free and finally heard the news was appropriate: “I was just over the moon.”

Zena Cardman, Marine Scientist and Microbiologist

To accomplish her research in microbiology, Zena Cardman has already been to some of the world’s most remote environments, from Antarctic ice to caves where no daylight penetrates to hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean. “I’m especially interested in life that lives in oddball environments on Earth, the extremophiles,” says the 29-year-old from Williamsburg, Virginia. “For me, that’s a good analogy for environments that might be habitable on another planet.”

Cardman is a multitalented scientist whose bachelor’s degree in biology included minors in chemistry, marine sciences, and creative writing, and she hopes that her flexibility will make her “that scientific Swiss Army knife in the field.” Having also earned a Master of Science degree in Marine Sciences, she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at Pennsylvania State University when she was selected as an astronaut candidate — doing research work focused on “cave slime,” which she says lives in “a really interesting environment. It’s totally dark all the time. Life there is not fueled by normal things we look outside our windows and see.”

She’s thrilled to be joining NASA just as they begin looking to longer missions, further away from the planet we call home. “There is a lot of change happening, so we are not sure where this current class is going to end up going,” she says. “That’s almost more exciting than knowing.”

Jasmin Moghbeli, Helicopter Pilot and Aerospace Engineer

Jasmin Moghbeli has dreamed of being an astronaut since she was a child; she was inspired by a sixth-grade project about first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova. “We had to dress up like the person in class, and I had my little space outfit that my mom helped me make,” recalls the 33-year-old Iranian-American from Baldwin, New York. “That was the first time I remember definitely saying ‘hey, I want to be an astronaut’ and started looking more into what I needed to do.”

She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and joined the Marines, becoming a helicopter pilot and rising to the rank of major, but she didn’t give up on her dream of joining NASA, so this year she decided to apply — and found the first step of process surprisingly anticlimactic. “The first part is you just submit a resume,” Moghbeli says. “So that part’s a little underwhelming, you’re like ‘that’s it?'” Fortunately, hearing the news that she had actually been selected to start astronaut training was everything that she’d been dreaming of for all of those years: “When I first got the call, I could tell you, my hands were shaking afterwards and I could barely dial the numbers to call my parents to tell them.”

Loral O’Hara, Research Engineer and Wilderness First Responder

Loral O’Hara knows something about persevering until you reach your goal: the 34-year-old, who is a research engineer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, applied to the astronaut program twice before getting the good news; “Third time is the charm,” she says. O’Hara has dreamed of being an astronaut since she was a child: growing up in Houston, her second-grade class grew tomato seeds that flew in one of the space shuttles, and “in high school I used to watch the space shuttle debriefings when they used to do those in the space center.”

However, she tells students who dream of space not to feel bad if they struggle with some subjects: “my worst subject was actually math,” she says. “I struggled with math the whole way through.” Those struggles, however, didn’t stop her from getting a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering or a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics. O’Hara is also a private pilot and an avid outdoorswoman, and has been serving as a wilderness first responder, using her certified EMT skills to help people in trouble in remote places. She’s excited to return to her hometown for training and even more excited about the possibility of a Mars mission: “That’s been something that I think we’ve all been dreaming out for ages, just stepping foot on another planet!”

Jessica Watkins, Geologist and Curiosity Collaborator

Jessica Watkins wanted to be an astronaut so much that she started her university career in mechanical engineering — but then she discovered a passion for geology! “One thing that people have said to me… was that you want to make sure you are passionate about and fulfilled by what you do in your career, outside of being an astronaut,” says the 29-year-old from Lafayette, Colorado. “[Astronaut] selection is so rigorous and the statistics are so small, you want to pursue something that you really love and that you would love to do for the rest of your life.”

Her doctorate in geology led to a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, where she started working with NASA’s scientific division as part of the team working with the Mars Curiosity rover. An avid athlete and a former national rugby sevens team member, she’s also been acting as a volunteer assistant coach for the women’s basketball team at Caltech. Watkins is an advocate for women, especially women of color, in STEM, and she hopes that she can provide an encouraging example to a generation of Mighty Girls: “[I like] being able to be a face to others who may not see people who look like them in STEM fields in general, and doing cool things like going to space.”



Credit: amightygirl.com

Two female astronauts are close to accomplishing something no women have done before.

U.S. astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will step outside the International Space Station Friday morning, the first time in history that two women have done a spacewalk together.

Koch and Meir are expected to spend more than five hours outside the space station to replace a failed power controller, according to NASA.

The remaining four astronauts aboard the International Space Station, all men, will remain inside while Koch and Meir complete their work.

NASA is marking Friday’s “HERstory in the making” by asking schoolteachers to share photos of their students celebrating the spacewalk, according to The Associated Press. NASA has a “HERstory” oral history project documenting the experiences of women who have contributed to the space agency.

Koch and Meir both joined NASA in 2013, the year NASA’s astronaut class was 50% female. Koch is also on her way to making history with a 300-day mission, which will be the longest single spaceflight by a woman.

The astronauts were asked in an interview from space earlier this month about whether they mind having their accomplishments qualified by their gender.

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“In the end I do think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing and in the past, women haven’t always been at the table,” Koch said on NASA TV. “And it’s wonderful to be contributing to the human spaceflight program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role, and that in turn can lead to an increased chance for success.”

“There are a lot of people that derive motivation from inspiring stories from people that look like them and I think it’s an important aspect of the story to tell,” she said.

sonos sonos One (Gen 2) – Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in – Black read more

Meir added, “What we’re doing now shows all the work that went in decades prior. All the women that worked to get us where we are today. I think the nice thing for us is we don’t even really think about it on a daily basis. It’s just normal. We’re part of the team.”

Koch and Meir’s spacewalk comes seven months after NASA had to cancel its first attempt at making “HERstory,” because the space station did not have enough medium-size spacesuits on board.

Koch and another astronaut, Anne McClain, were supposed to make the first all-women spacewalk back in March.

When Koch and McClain, who is no longer on the ISS, discovered they both needed to wear a size medium in the “hard upper torso,” or the shirt of the spacesuit, the walk was canceled.

NASA faced swift backlash from people who viewed the spacewalk cancellation as yet another sign of women being held back on the job.

The decision by NASA though was largely one borne out of logistics, as there are a limited number of spacesuits on the space station and NASA has lacked the funds to update its spacesuits in recent years.

(MORE: NASA’s interns remixed Ariana Grande’s hit song to promote its next mission)

Since the cancellation of the female spacewalk in March, NASA has been preparing its spacesuits for a series of 10 spacewalks.

The International Space Station is now equipped to make four complete spacewalking suits, with two “hard upper torso” components of the same size to be available at any time, according to NASA.

Poppy Northcutt began her career as NASA’s first female engineer in mission control, and the sexism she faced on the job inspired her to pursue a legal career egal career fighting for women’s rights. Now the state president for the National Organization for Women’s Texas chapter and still handling the occasional legal case, she tells Teen Vogue that she wants her multifaceted career to be a model for young women today.

“The idea of having one career in your life — that was what people had 100 years ago,” she says in an interview. “You need to be more flexible these days.”

Northcutt, a pioneering woman in hard sciences before the idea of STEMeducation or jobs even existed, also tells Teen Vogue about how she’s seen sexism change, the importance of doing the hard thing, and more about her groundbreaking work at NASA, which is documented in the new threepart series from PBS’s American Experience, “Chasing the Moon.”

Teen Vogue: Could tell us a little bit about what led you to your job at NASA when you were coming up through school and how you got that position?

Poppy Northcutt: In high school, I always scored well in math classes, and I enjoyed them. I decided to major in mathematics when I was in college. The stereotypical jobs for women were very limited. If women went to college, they were expected to end up as executive secretaries, nurses, or teachers.

When I got out of college, I started looking for a job in the Houston area and ended up taking one with a contractor for NASA. I hadn’t been planning on going to work in the space program; I just lucked into it. The job title I had when I started was “computress.” I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Hidden Figures, but that’s the title that those women had as well. But at the time, I had no idea about the history. I didn’t know about the women in Langley.

I mainly just thought that my title was really strange. First of all, I’m not a computer. Secondly, you’re going to gender me as a computer?

TV: Was that gendered title indicative of what working there was like?

PN: They may not have had the gender in their title, but at that time, almost all jobs were highly gendered. If you opened the newspaper, the newspaper had sections for “Help Wanted: Female” and “Help Wanted: Male.” And it was the late ’60s, before litigation and demonstration stopped newspapers from classifying jobs that way.

I started work as a computress number-crunching for engineers. After I’d been there about six months, I had my first job evaluation. The head of Houston operations told me that they were looking to promote me to the technical staff, which is the phraseology they used for the people doing engineering work. I started working on Apollo in that first year that I worked there.

TV: You were in the mission control center at Houston. What was it like being a woman in a space like that?

PN: By the time I was there, I was used to being the only woman in the room because that was just sort of the normal situation. There just weren’t many women doing technical functions. We did have some women doing computer programming.

TV: Were there any specific challenges you were facing as a young woman doing this incredible scientific work?

PN: It wasn’t just me. It was all women at that time. We existed in a sea of sexism. The waters are a little clearer now. They’re not as murky as they were 50 years ago. But all women at that time, in all the places around the world, were living in a sea of sexism.

If you were the only woman in a particular area, you stood out because you were different and you had the feeling that people were watching you more. Some people may be hoping that you failed.

I was fortunate I worked for a company that was very progressive for the time. You might not think they were very progressive, looking at them through today’s eyes, but if I had been working at one of the other companies, I might not have been promoted. The promotion was very hard for my company to get.

The head of Houston operations told me later was he could’ve more easily fired me and rehired me than to get that promotion because the increase in pay was so great. They have these rigid rules about how big of a salary increase somebody can get, so he had to fight for it. Most people would not have had somebody who fought that hard for them.

Even after I got the promotion, he told me, “You’re still underpaid.” All he could do was to get me to the bottom of that pay category, but he said, “I’m still going to work on trying to improve that.”

That’s a problem women still have today. If you were hired in and underpaid, it is extremely difficult to ever catch up because your future employers so often are basing your new pay on your previous pay.

TV: What made you want to go to law school after you’d worked at NASA?

PN: I had become very conscious of the women’s rights movement, partly because of my experiences being the only woman and with pay disparities. I also became very aware of the fact that I was actually really lucky. Even if I was discriminated against, I wasn’t experiencing nearly as much as most women were in the workforce.

I became involved in the National Organization for Women and was on their board of directors in the early 70s and became an activist. As a result, I was contacted by a new mayor elected in Houston, a new young, progressive mayor. He had made a commitment to appoint a “women’s advocate” on his staff. I was lucky enough to end up in that role.

Part of what I was doing was looking at equal pay problems and other kinds of discrimination. I was looking at the treatment of rape victims by the police and our health department and trying to increase the number of women who were on boards and commissions. I became increasingly aware of how laws affect us and can help close some of these gaps. I ended up going to law school.

TV: It seems like that activist streak carried through your work with Jane’s Due Process, the nonprofit ensuring legal protections for pregnant minors in Texas.

PN: I still work with them! I had worked for the Harris County district attorney’s office, and I was the first felony prosecutor in the domestic violence unit when we set that up. As for activism, I’ve always tried to do something to improve the status of women.

TV: People may think of studying STEM and studying law as very separate paths. What would you say to young people who want to have the range that you’ve had in your career — who have this activist streak and might also be into science?

PN: They should go for it. The idea of having one career in your life — that was what people had 100 years ago. But our life span is greatly increased at this point.

They may also want to change careers, or it may actually be a need. You need to be more flexible these days. I think you need to pay more attention to what’s going on in the world around you in terms of economics and be flexible.

TV: Any other advice for Teen Voguereaders?

PN: My big advice is to go back and read what John F. Kennedy said when he laid out his plan of going to the moon and understand that mission statement — land a man on the moon and return safely back to the earth — was a specific goal. But it was also followed by the reason why: We do it not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.

We should all look at doing the hard things, especially when setting goals for our careers. Do the things that are going to challenge you. That’s where you’ll really find your potential. And you’ll also make bigger contributions to society as a whole.

Culled from: Teen Vogue

George Mason University is renaming the largest building on campus after the 100-year-old former NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson. 

She overcame racism and sexism to help lead the United States into a new era of space exploration, but few knew her amazing accomplishments until the movie Hidden Figures came out.

Katherine G. Johnson Hall will be the new name for the former Bull Run Hall. The university will also create a scholarship in Johnson’s name.

“Katherine G. Johnson Hall will be a powerful symbol of what can be achieved, no matter the obstacles, when students of all backgrounds are given the opportunity to succeed,” said Mason President Ángel Cabrera, one of the dedication ceremony speakers. “Katherine Johnson represents the idea of striving to fulfill one’s full potential. Her name on this building, and her remarkable story, will inspire future generations of scientists and engineers.”

She worked at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. for 33 years and performed complex calculations and flight path analysis in the early years of the space program, including Apollo 11 flight to the moon in 1969. 

Her achievements were seen in the 2016 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures.

Johnson is 100 years old and was not able to make it to the dedication, but her family attended.

“For mom to be in Virginia, and have a building named after her, and to have the history as to why they chose her, has just been amazing,” her daughter Katherine Johnson said.

The movie “Hidden Figures” tells the story of Johnson who overcame racism and sexism to put rockets in space.

The movie poster was enough to blow away Olena Bromell.  “I was shocked. I looked at the poster and I was like, is that a black woman? Is that a rocket behind her?

“And she went and did math. She did math so well that the engineers were like, whoa, wait a minute!”  Bromell, a rising sophomore at Woodson High School in Fairfax, has been part of a Mason’s STEM summer program since she was in sixth grade. Several of the young people in that program attended the dedication ceremony. Bromell got to read a passage from Katherine Johnson’s book when she corrects a man’s calculations  at NASA.

“His face begins to turn the color of a cherry cough drop. I was right and he was wrong,” read Bromell.

Johnson has NASA facilities named in her honor and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

Obama Medal of Freedom

Photo by: APPresident Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Of course, it’s an honor for Katherine Johnson and her family to have an academic building named after her. But the people it’s really going to impact are the students.

 “It means that I can do this, it means that I can do whatever I set my mind to, and I’m going to!” exclaimed Bromwell. 

The Katherine Johnson building is home to many academic programs including The Virginia Serious Game Institute.

Credit: Wusa9.com

Mae Jemison is getting her very own Lego figurine and if you have ever played with legos you can appreciate this new way to celebrate her accomplishments.

Via Rolling out:


Mae isn’t the only astronaut being recognized, Lego is celebrating all the women of NASA in this new collection and with enough support, they hope to get the Lego’s on the shelves.

The other women are:





Read more about the initiative here.

Women of Nasa

Credit: emilycottontop.com

Tiera Guinn Fletcher is an African American engineer who graduated from MIT in 2017 and works for Boeing. She is one of the designers and structural analysts building the Space Launch System for NASA which is set to send people to Mars.

Fletcher was born in the greater Atlanta area in Georgia. Her interest and attraction to math and science began at the age of six and was cultivated by her parents. Her mother Sheila, was an accountant and her father was a construction worker. Her parents encouraged her to calculate things and measure things in her daily life. These exercises – including coupon clipping, totaling up grocery receipts, and learning about the applications of architecture – challenged Fletcher and set her apart from other kids her age. At eleven years old, Fletcher zeroed in on her interest in Aerospace engineering while participating in an aerospace program put on by Lockheed Martin. Fletcher went on to study aerospace in college at MIT.

Fletcher lives in New Orleans, Louisiana where she works on the assembly of the Space Launch System. She was married in July 2018 to Myron Fletcher, another aerospace engineer who also works at Boeing. Both she and her husband share an interest in influencing young people to join the world of STEM along with increasing the diversity of STEM fields.

Fletcher attended Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia. During her senior year of high school, Fletcher received an internship at NASA in Langley, Virginia. She also landed a research internship at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2014. The internship involved assisting in the research of landing performance in aircraft. Through these internships her interest in the field grew and she solidified her choice in pursuing aerospace engineering as a major in college and an eventual career.

Fletcher attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated with a 5.0 GPA and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Aerospace Engineering in June 2017. She participated in a mentorship program to help other students at MIT, this helped instil confidence in herself and her capabilities.

After her first year, Fletcher participated in undergraduate research studying design optimization of aircraft at MIT. Her second year, she again participated in undergraduate research, this time studying Network Analysis. During her junior and senior years of college, Fletcher participated in two different internships at Boeing. From June 2015 to June 2016 Fletcher was a Systems Engineering Intern at Boeing where she helped design, test, and collaborate with other professionals on Boeing products. The following year from June 2016 to June 2017 Fletcher was a Design engineer and Stress Analyst Intern at Boeing where she helped with the design process and analysis of the Space Launch System for NASA.

Fletcher was offered a job at Boeing as a Structural analysisEngineer. At Boeing, she is one of the lead engineers and designers working on the Space Launch System for NASA which aims to put humans on Mars. The Space Launch System is the fastest rocket ever created and the largest. The area that Fletcher works on is the exploratory upper stage of the spacecraft which helps the craft complete its ascent phase. She is part of the Engine Section Task Leading team responsible for this, of which she is the youngest member.

Fletcher received the 2017 Good Housekeeping‘s Awesome Woman Award which recognizes women who are impacting the world for the better by overcoming social constraints and influencing the world around them.

Also in 2017, Fletcher received the Albert G. Hill Prize at MIT which recognizes students in their junior or senior year who have excelled academically and impacted the environment at MIT in a way that improves campus climate for other minorities.

In June 2018, Fletcher participated as a keynote speaker at Impact’18 in Krakow – where speakers discuss innovations and business models to share with the world what work they are doing.

On November 8, 2018, Fletcher won the Most Promising Engineer – Industry Award at the 2019 Black Engineer of the Year Awards.

Source: Wikipedia

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson provided pivotal contributions to space flight research from the 1940s through to the 1960s, when the United States first sent men to orbit and then walk on the Moon.

Despite their achievements, all three had to confront the racial segregation of the era.

They were among dozens of African-Americans, both male and female, who worked as mathematicians and physicists for the US space program, even as they were forced to use separate bathrooms from whites, and were barred from the same restaurants and schools frequented by whites.

The trio’s work was largely forgotten until they were profiled in the book “Hidden Figures” decades later by author Margot Lee Shetterly, later adapted into the 2016 blockbuster of the same name.

Shetterly said the decision to ordain Hidden Figures Way honored “the contributions of unseen individuals who were there at the beginning of the story, and whose persistence and courage have delivered us to where we are today.”

“These female mathematicians were doing the heavy lifting in aeronautical research and many, many other fields long before those chunks of electronic circuitry became the defining feature of our life and work,” she said at a Wednesday ceremony outside NASA.

In 2015, Former US President Barack Obama gave Johnson, who is now 100, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Jackson and Vaughan died in 2005 and 2008 respectively.

NASA will next month celebrate the 50th anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 mission and humanity’s first Moon landing.

The agency last month announced its plan to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024 through its “Artemis” program — named for the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology.

Credit: pulse.ng

Nigeria’s Wendy Okolo is the first black woman to bag a doctorate — not honorary — degree in aerospace engineering, anywhere on the planet.

Born to a family of six in southeastern Nigeria, Okolo says her number one heroes are her sisters — Jennifer and Phyllis — who taught her biology, and other sciences with their day-to-day realities.

Okolo received her B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2010 and 2015 respectively.

During her undergraduate years, she was in the African Student Society at the University of Texas at Arlington. She was also the president of the society of women engineers in the university.

Okolo’s career has taken flight at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. agency responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

She was only 26 years old when she became the first black woman to obtain a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.


During her undergraduate studies, she interned for two summers with Lockheed Martin working on NASA’s Orion spacecraft, first in the requirements management office in systems engineering and then with the Hatch Mechanisms team in mechanical engineering.

As a graduate student, she worked as a summer researcher from 2010 to 2012 in the Control Design & Analysis Branch at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

She worked with the team that flew the world fastest manned aircraft, which flew from coast to coast in 67 minutes — this normally takes over five hours for some of the fastest jets around.

Okolo said she had to battle impostor’s syndrome when she found out she would be working with such a great team.

“I was like I am sure these guys are so smart, what am I going to bring in,” she said. She went on an error in the code in the systems and she fixed that and “that fixed the impostor syndrome for a while”.

Now, Okolo is an aerospace research engineer at the Ames Research Center, a major NASA research centre in California’s Silicon Valley.


In 2019, she won the BEYA Global Competitiveness Conference award for the most promising engineer in the United States government.



Credit: Nairaland