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Profile of the Day: Mary G. Ross

On this day in 1908, space pioneer Mary G. Ross was born in Park Hill, Oklahoma. Remembered for being the first Native American female engineer, Ross’s contributions would become crucial to the development of the American space program.

Image: Mary G. Ross / San Diego Air and Space Museum

Ross was the second of five children born to William Ross and Mary Henrietta Moore. Her second great grandfather was John Ross, who was the longest serving Chief of the Cherokee Nation. 

In 1928, she received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics. After spending nine years teaching science and mathematics, Ross was hired as a mathematician at Lockheed Martin. She soon joined Lockheed’s Advanced Development Program (ADP) and was one of the 40 founding engineers at Skunk Works, Lockheed’s secret think tank. During that time, she worked on “preliminary design concepts for interplanetary space travel, manned and unmanned earth-orbiting flights, [and on] the earliest studies of orbiting satellites for both defense and civilian purposes.”

She was a member of the Society of Women Engineers and after her retirement, worked to help recruit young women and Native Americans into engineering careers. Today she is remembered for her pioneering work and for paving the path for future generations of women in the world of science and mathematics.

Ross died on April 29, 2008 at the age of 99.

View Mary G. Ross’s Geni Profile

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