Mary Anning


Thanks to Allegra Swift for the suggestion of this JSTOR Daily article about forgotten female fossilists!



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Ellen Williams

Ellen Williams_Headshot.jpg

Thanks to Sam Kome, who pointed out this article on innovation in battery technology.  The effort is led by Dr. Ellen Williams, director of ARPA-E.

Here’s a release from Reuters:   A wing of the U.S. Department of Energy focused on breakthrough technologies may soon give billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s most recent foray into energy storage a run for its money, the unit’s director said.

Read more in an article in The Guardian and another in




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Aprille Ericsson


As part of the observance of Chicagoland Engineers Week, February 21-27, 2016, professional engineers, engineering societies, major corporations, CEO’s, and civic leaders will attend the Washington Award Benefit on Friday evening, February 26th at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan, Chicago.  The Washington Award reminds us that our first president was an engineer, and recognizes an engineer whose accomplishments have “pre-eminently promoted the happiness, comfort and well-being of humanity.”  Dr. Aprille Ericsson,  Aerospace Engineer. NASA Gouda Space Flight Center will be this year’s 103rd recipient of the Washington Award.    She was the first female, and the first African-American female, to receive a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Howard University and the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.


In addition, nearly 100 students (3rd grade through high school) will be honored to recognize their accomplishments in a variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (S.T.E.M.) program competitions (Future City Competition, Bridge Building Contest, FIRST Robotics Competition, Essay/Poster Contest, Illinois Science Fair and Destination ImagiNation, Inc.).

For further information visit or contact Laura Burke, Western Society of Engineers Chicagoland Engineers Week 2016 Committee at



Here’s some information about Dr. Ericsson on the NASA site


Thank you to Robert Johnson, SE, who sent GGSTEM this terrific information about Dr. Ericsson and many positive upcoming and past STEM outreach activities in Chicago (especially engineering-related programs). 

  • 2016 Chicagoland eWEEK (Engineers Week):    There will be  numerous  events to  celebrate the  engineering  profession,  exceptional  S.T.E.M.  students   and the ‘educate’   students  of all ages and the  public as to the accomplishments  of  engineers.
    February  19,  2016     –  Chicago Hilton & Towers,  Chicago
  • February 21-27, 2016     DiscovereINTRODUCE A GIRL TO ENGINEERING
  • February 25, 2016   Girls engineering day  hosted by Argonne Labs
  • Engineers Week   Benefit February 26, 2016 @   the Chicago  Hilton and Towers . Dozens of Exceptional S.T.E.M. students are honored at the Engineers  Week Banquet  Engineer  Aprille Ericsson, PhD.  to  receive the  prestigious  ‘Washington Award’    and students from several   engineering outreach programs   are honored.  2015 Pictures
  • IIT –Rice Campus Dupage Area eWEEK Expo   (Huge)  Depending on weather and parallel  program(s)  this  Expo can  draw  1000-2000 visitors!!!!!!Saturday,  February 27, 2016.  More info herePoster.
  • February  27, 2016 Northwestern  University   hosts   44th annual Career Day for Girls
  • February 27, 2016 Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (@UIC)
  • Program  February  27,  2016   @  IIT   National Society of Black Engineers  NSBE   (Chicago)  eWEEK program.   Tickets for the EXPO.
  • February 27, 2016  Chicago MATHCOUNTS Competition, CNA Headquarters, 333 S. Wabash Ave. Chicago, IL 60604.  8AM – 2PM
  • Sunday,    February 27, 28, 2016      (Waiting for exact  details) CAFamily “Engineering”  Day    Chicago engineers explain to children, students of all ages ++ parents how engineers shaped Chicago’s famed skyline.
  • US F.I.R.S.T  Robotics  Midwest Regional Finals  @ UIC  March 31 -April 2, 2016
  • May 7, 2016  International Bridge Contest
  • Coming in August:  The ICEBOX Derby   (2016).  Pictures from August 15, 2015.  Take   note of the African-Americans  girls  in the pictures !   You  may  even   recognize   Amandla Stenberg   (Hunger Games)   in a few  of the pictures! 

Past Chicago events — GOOD NEWS




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Julia Robinson

julia_robinson_book cover

Thank you to mathematician Peter Kuchment, who suggested “this wonderful book of Constance Reid about her sister Julia Robinson.”

Here’s a couple of really nice Amazon reviews of the book:

Format: Hardcover

Constance Reid was a wonderful biographer (see her books on Hilbert and on Courant). Here she wrote a touching account of the life of her sister, brilliant mathematician Julia Robinson. The time was, how should I put it, strange? Julia had achieved international fame and membership in the National Academy of Sciences BEFORE getting “normal” professor position.

Format: Hardcover

Constance Reid has created a gem of a book about her sister. Beginning with the information that all royalties will go for mathematical scholarships at Julia’s high school, through to Yuri Matijasevich’s slightly technical essay, informed with equal parts of love for Julia and for Hilbert’s Tenth Problem, there is a consistency of tone that shows Constance Reid to be a true artist of book creation. The tenacity, reticence, and generosity that Julia brought to her mathematical life are conveyed to the reader in every aspect of the book. Give this to anyone who does not yet understand that the passion for truth makes fine human beings. Although it is consistently played down, the shocking discrimination against women emerges consistently throughout the book. Julia Robinson gave abundantly to the world despite illness, discrimination, and other obstacles. Her very generous spirit shines through the pages of this book. Do yourself a favor, and read this beautiful tribute from Constance Reid, Lisl Gaal, Martin Davis, Yuri Matijasevich, and the Mathematical Association of America to Julia Bowman Robinson.


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F. Suzanne Jenniches


Suzanne Jenniches says: Today after a 41 year-career, I am as passionate about engineering as I was the first day as a test engineer and that is what I share with young people. I want all young people to recognize that engineering is an option. . . Because it is the best career that there is.

Jenniches began her illustrious engineering career as a – biology teacher! She more than made up for what some might consider “a slow start” with an engineering career that many of us would want to emulate. When she received the American Society of Mechanical Engineer’s Kate Gleason Award in November 2015, she was recognized for “outstanding leadership in manufacturing innovation; for setting the highest standards of excellence in producibility engineering; and for tireless efforts to increase women’s participation in STEM careers.”

Jenniches has been a leader in manufacturing innovation and producibility engineering for over three decades. As an associate test engineer at Westinghouse Electronics (later Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems), she provided the inspiration and leadership to introduce new manufacturing, automated design and test procedures to the production of one of Westinghouse’s premiere products, airborne command and control radar systems (AWACS) and the Offensive Radar System for the B-1B Bomber. The new manufacturing and automated test processes initiated for the B-1B bomber was a major factor in reducing the cost of complex systems such as the radar Electronically Agile Beam Antenna. These production methods were extended to the F-16 family, AWACS radar and numerous other classified front line systems in use today. Progression from mechanically scanned to phased array (electronically scanned) antennas was a huge leap in technology and the first in the world to be flown in production. As important, the use of this leading edge technology which significantly increased reliability and performance over the then current technology was delivered to the customer at the same cost. These radars are used at a large number of worldwide locations protecting US interests. As an example, NATO uses one for Search and Rescue Operations.

In 1989, Jenniches initiated discussions with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to solve functional problems in their fledgling mail sort system. Westinghouse was awarded a contract and Jenniches personally directed the application of sophisticated defense technology to the design, development and manufacture of a new revolutionary automated sorting system for the USPS that is in use today. Jenniches and her team’s commercial sort systems have had a worldwide impact on the efficiency and cost of rapidly moving mail and small packages. She introduced a defense manufacturing and production mentality into a very different industry. The previous USPS sorting system was not designed for interoperability of parts. This led to long periods of downtime, often as long as six months, for frequently needed repairs. By introducing configuration control and producibility to the new product, Jenniches’ team produced a jump-start kit with completely interchangeable parts that could be taken into the field. The changeover required only a very short downtime of two weeks in comparison to the former state-of-the-art process of over two months for the USPS.

Her team solved the problem of detecting anthrax in the mail in less than six months by putting a customized front end onto the sorting machine that would squeeze the envelope forcing air out so that the specially designed biological sniffer could determine if anthrax spores were in the envelope. An “anthrax sniffer” deployed in the Baltimore Post Office Processing and Distribution Center in 2010 has processed over 8 million pieces of mail without a detection failure.

The postal sort system technology was then extended to design and manufacture of an automated system for sorting and weighing small packages “on the fly” for FedEx at its Memphis sorting facility. The package sorting system for FedEx allows them to gain/maintain position as a lead player in expedited delivery service where time and accuracy are money.

Jenniches is a superb role model for women engineers and an outstanding ambassador for engineering as a profession. Throughout her career, Jenniches has also been a leader in encouraging young people to pursue careers in engineering. She has given more than one hundred talks to K-12 students on the importance of engineering as a career. She has testified before congressional committees and lobbied for bills to support STEM education. She initiated the NAE website “Engineer Girl” and has spent more than sixteen years chairing this sub-committee.

Thank you to regular GGSTEM contributer, Jill S. Tietjen, P.E., F.SWE for this post.

Adapted from an article titled “Engineering Solutions from AWACS to Anthrax,” by Jill S. Tietjen, P.E. published in SWE:  Magazine of the Society of Women Engineers, Winter 2016.



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Mina Rees

Thanks to Amy Shell-Gellasch, who emailed to share her book about mathematician Mina Rees.



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Patricia Schmit

Patricia Schmit

Thanks to Bill Messer who sent this story.

Bill says:  this was emailed to me by a friend who lives in Hamilton, MT. Hamilton is a small town in the Bitteroot Valley, western MT, but it is also home to Rocky Mountain Labs, one of the most high-power super-dangerous pathogen labs in the world, much of the US Ebola work is done there. Anyhow, the story is about a high school student whose colorization of an electron micrograph made the cover of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, but also about how her grandmother was one of the few electron microscopists in the US during WWII, a grandma got STEM kinda story.

Check out the full story here.

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