Black History

Annie Easley | Lesser-Known Individual In Black History

annie easley

For the entire month of February, I’m covering lesser-known individuals in Black History since it’s Black History Month. This article explores Annie Easley and her work.

Annie Easley: Her Vitals

Per her Wikipedia page Annie Easley was:

  • Born: April 23, 1933 in Birmingham, AL
  • Died: June 25, 2011 in Cleveland, OH

What Did Annie Easley Do?

Annie Easley was a computer scientist, mathematician, and rocket scientist.

What Was Her Mark On Black History?

Annie Easley led a team at the Lewis Research Center (now the Glenn Research Center) which developed the software for the Centaur rocket stage.

She also was one of the first black people working as a computer scientist at NASA.

Annie started her career in science by working as a “human computer” at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). She applied for the job after reading a newspaper article about twin sisters working at NACA as human computers. While working there, she earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Cleveland State University.

During her career at NACA, using Fortran and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) programming languages, Annie developed programs analyzing the following:

  • Alternative power technology
  • Centaur upper rocket stage
  • Solar, wind and energy projects

In addition, she worked on various energy projects, like determining the life of storage batteries.

Although Annie’s research helped various industries, her work on the Centaur project affected space travel long-term. Her code and math was used with future space shuttle launches, along with launching various types of satellites into space. Annie’s research even contributed to the Cassini probe, flying to Saturn in 1997.

Her Thoughts About Facing Work Discrimination

In a 2001 interview, Annie said this about facing work discrimination:

I just have my own attitude. I’m out here to get the job done, and I knew I had the ability to do it, and that’s where my focus was. My head is not in the sand. But my thing is, if I can’t work with you, I will work around you. I was not about to be [so] discouraged that I’d walk away. That may be a solution for some people, but it’s not mine.

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