Friday, April 14, 2017

NASA Rewarding Career for Women

Retired NASA Chemist, Winifred Huo, was born in Guangzhou, China two weeks before the start of the Sino-Japanese war.  She recalls the first eight years of her life as looking for a safe place to live, and a place where her father could work. (see post one.) Winifred's highly-educated father was assigned to Guangdong to help build the impossible: the Burma Road. (see post two.) Two years after arriving, the Japanese invaded and the family had to make a quick escape. (see post three.) Thanks to Winifred's mother, despite all the moving about, Winifred excelled at her studies.  And, when she finally landed in Hong Kong for high school, she found her passion in the sciences.(see post four.) When she graduated--while the University of Hong Kong would not accept her because of some British rulings--she got a place at the University of Taiwan. (see post five.) In 1957, her father was offered an exchange post at Purdue University. This coincided with Sputnik--and was a time when America needed scientists--and he was offered a green card, the family was welcome to the U.S. (see post six.) She pursued graduate studies in science at the University of Chicago where she was often the only woman in the class. (post seven.)  Upon graduation, Winifred taught in a number of prestigious universities. (post eight.)
In 1978, Winifred's husband got a job offer from Bank of America in San Francisco. That is when she found NASA. It was a rewarding place to work as a woman. She was there until her retirement in 2006. (Even today she still goes in once or twice a week.)
In 1994 she received the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.
“It was for the study of Entry Environment, and I worked with an experimental group to study—in the early 80s—to try to study the Shuttle’s protective shield because there was worry about the shuttle design. We tried to devise an experiment to measure the temperature, the pressure and the speed of the shuttle.”
(To be continued. Next: Losing Gifted Scientists to Social Pressure.)

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