Blerds Engineering Science

A Q&A with Christine Darden, the 40-year NASA engineer

A Black woman who was a mathematician, aeronautical engineer and worked for NASA for 40 years researching supersonic flight and sonic booms? I stan!

Christine Darden took part in a Q&A for Quanta Magazine last month and discussed her time at NASA, Girl Scouts, and how to make fast planes quieter.

My favourite part of the Q&A:

What was it like? Did you ever talk with the male engineers in those early years?

Yes, I often did after getting an assignment. Once, an engineer asked me to complete his work by writing a computer program. It was an interesting assignment. When I finished, he said my program gave incorrect answers. I reviewed and ran it again. He laughed and said, “That’s still not right.”

I didn’t like the laugh. My work wasn’t wrong. I looked at the work he had done prior to giving me the assignment and found one sign error. When I corrected his mistake and ran the code again, the numbers looked good.

Was he gracious? 

No. But he didn’t laugh anymore.

Read the interview in full on the Quanta website.

Quanta-related: The quantum internet

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