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In honor of Women’s History Month, the following is inspired by one of the vignettes highlighting scientists and engineers from our book Family Science.

Christine Darden, an aerospace and mechanical engineer, always wanted to fix things. In college, she studied to become a high school mathematics teacher. Later, she continued her studies in mathematics and engineering ultimately earning her doctorate in engineering from George Washington University.

She began work at NASA’s Langley Research Center in 1967. While there, she began the “computer pool,” a collection of female mathematicians who performed calculations for NASA’s male engineers. She ultimately helped to automate this process by writing computer programs. These women were the focus of the 2016 movie, Hidden Figures.

Later in her career, Dr. Darden worked on jet design to eliminate the sonic booms that occur when jets travel faster than the speed of sound. She led the Sonic Boom Team that researched ways to decrease the negative effects of sonic booms which include noise pollution and depletion of the ozone layer. Dr. Darden won many awards over the course of her career, and in 2019, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.