Katherine Johnson

Born: August 26, 1918, in West Virginiay

Died: February 24, 2020

Major Academic Events: She was one of three black students who were chosen to integrate West Virginia's graduate schools. She studied French and mathematics at West Virginia State College. When she was 13, she attended a historically black high school. She later became a teacher. In 1952, a relative told her that there were open positions in the West Area Computing section of NACA's Langley laboratory. She started working there the following summer.

What she did for computer science: Katherine joined the Flight Research Division two weeks after Dorothy Vaughan assigned her to work on a project. During the next four years, she worked on an investigation of a plane crash that was caused by wake turbulence. Sputniks launch in 1957 changed her life forever. She contributed some math to the 1958 document notes on space technology, a compilation of lectures given by engineers in the flight research division and the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD). During NASA's first foray into space travel, Johnson worked with engineers in those groups. In 1962, for the orbital mission of John Glenn, she was in charge of most significant work.

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