GOOGLE celebrates Mary G. Ross' 110 Birthday!
Google tells us about Mary G. Ross
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.
Special thanks to both the family of Mary G. Ross and the Society of Women Engineers for their partnerships on this project. Jeff Ross, nephew of Mary G. Ross, shares his thoughts on his aunt’s legacy:
The Ross family is excited that Google has chosen Mary G. Ross for a Doodle on her 110th birthday. A proud Cherokee woman and the great-great granddaughter of Chief John Ross, Mary is an excellent role model for young women and American Indians everywhere. Her accomplishments are a testament to her determination and love for education. Our hope as a family is that her story inspires young people to pursue a technical career and better the world through science.
Check out more info and photos