Podcast Series: One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Woman Engineering Kind

In a two-part series on SWE's Diverse podcast, Anne Perusek, SWE's director of editorial and publications, and Troy Eller English, SWE's archivist, celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing and the SWE members who helped humankind reach the moon.
Podcast Series: One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Woman Engineering Kind

In a two-part series on SWE’s Diverse podcast, Anne Perusek, SWE’s director of editorial and publications, and Troy Eller English, SWE’s archivist, celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing and the SWE members who helped humankind reach the moon.

Part 1:

Episode 69: SWE Stories: Tales from the Archives — One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Woman Engineering Kind, Part 1

Eller English shares a 1962 speech by SWE’s first president, Beatrice Hicks, who encouraged women to pursue engineering to solve the technical manpower shortage in the nation’s space program. Hicks herself was the inventor of a gas density switch used on most rockets propelling spacecraft in the 1960s. Perusek and Eller English also share SWE oral history interview audio clips of Fellows Barbara “Bobbie” Crawford Johnson and Ivy Hooks describing their work on the Apollo program. Johnson was supervisor of the Apollo Entry Performance Unit in the early 1960s at North American Aviation (later, North American Rockwell), and became Rockwell’s manager of Apollo Command and Service Module Systems Engineering. In recognition of her pioneering work, Johnson was honored with the SWE Achievement Award in 1974. Ivy Hooks began her career in 1963 modeling the lighting on the moon as an aerospace technologist in the Space Vehicle Design Branch of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center. She later worked on cost modeling and flight dynamics for the Apollo and Shuttle programs.

Perusek and Eller English conclude this episode by recognizing SWE member Virginia Tucker, who established and managed the pool of hundreds of “female computers” at Langley Memorial Aeronautical laboratory from 1935 through 1946 (some of whom were later featured in Margo Lee Shetterly’s book and resulting movie, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.) They also recognize other SWE members who contributed to the Apollo program, including: SWE past president Alice Morgan Martin; SWE Fellow and Distinguished Engineering Educator Award recipient Yvonne Young Clark; and SWE Fellow and first scholarship recipient, Phyllis Gaylard.

Part 2:

Episode 70: SWE Stories: Tales from the Archives — One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Woman Engineering Kind, Part 2

Eller English shares a humorous anecdote from a 1962 Space Symposium for Women luncheon, in which famed costume designer Edith Head shared her sketches of “women’s space fashions.” Perusek and Eller English share additional SWE oral history audio clips from Bobbie Johnson and Ivy Hooks about their work on the Apollo program. They also share excerpts from SWE oral history interviews with past presidents Arminta Harness and Naomi McAfee. Harness was was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service to the space program as chief of the Program Control Division of the Gemini Target Vehicle Program from 1963 through 1967. McAfee was the reliability engineering manager for all space programs at Westinghouse and headed the group responsible for developing the television camera system used to broadcast the first lunar landing.

Barbara Crawford Johnson in NASA Apollo 11 shuttle

Resources:

Arminta Harness: An interview conducted by Lauren Kata for the Society of Women Engineers, May 1, 2003. Interview LOH001952.17 at the Walter P. Reuther Library and Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University. Transcript: https://ethw.org/Oral-History:Arminta_Harness

Ivy Hooks: An interview conducted by Lauren Kata for the Society of Women Engineers, April 9, 2003. Interview LOH001952.18 at the Walter P. Reuther Library and Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University. Transcript: https://ethw.org/Oral-History:Ivy_Hooks

Barbara Johnson: An interview conducted by Lauren Kata for the Society of Women Engineers, May 3, 2003. Interview LOH001951.20 at the Walter P. Reuther Library and Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University. Transcript: https://ethw.org/Oral-History:Barbara_Crawford_Johnson

Naomi McAfee: An interview conducted by Lauren Kata for the Society of Women Engineers, May 30, 2003. Interview LOH001952.24 at the Walter P. Reuther Library and Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University. Transcript: https://ethw.org/Oral-History:Naomi_McAfee_(2003)

Society of Women Engineers Publications, Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University. http://reuther.wayne.edu/files/LR002487.pdf

Society of Women Engineers Records, Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University.http://reuther.wayne.edu/files/LR001539.pdf


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