Chosen by: Lisa van Etten, student Automotive Engineering and Project Manager of student team TU/ecomotive, that built Luca, a car made almost entirely from recycled waste
Who was she?
“She was an American mathematician and worked at NASA and NACA (predecessor of NASA). At her time at NASA, she helped calculating trajectories, launch windows and return paths for different projects including the Project Mercury where the first American man, John Glenn, was put in orbit. She was groundbreaking in both the science field and other fields.
I did not know about Katherine Johnson before watching the movie Hidden Figures, in which the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson is told. I got inspired by the story of these women, especially the one about Katherine Johnson.
A great anecdote is that John Glenn asked Katherine to check by hand the computer calculations, since digital computers were used for the first time, for calculating his orbit around the Earth. The confidence in Katherine Johnson is amazing to see, that with her knowledge and passion, she was trusted more than the computers at the time. This, included, that is was very special, since she was a woman and segregation was still present.”
Why is the a hero for you?
“She is for me a real hero for her groundbreaking work in aerospace technology while fighting stereotypes and the culture in her own way, proving that she is just as worthy as the other people in her department. This inspires me that by working hard and trusting your own capabilities, you can show that you can do anything that you love to do.
She is an example for lots and lots of women, girls and actually anyone, that if you like technology, science or any other field, you should go for it and do not let expectations stop you from doing something you like.”