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Author Shares Story of NASA 'Human Computer' Grandmother

The story of NASA’S human supercomputers that was brought to the big screen in the 2016 breakout film “Hidden Figures” was inspired by the real-life black women mathematicians that helped launch rockets into space. On Saturday, the granddaughter of one of those mathematicians, Duchess Harris, was in San Diego to share the story of these now legendary, but once unknown women as told through her book Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA. Workers Hold Pro-Union Rally Outside Convention Center In the 1940s, 11 black women began working for NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. These women performed trajectory for America’s first manned space flights — calculations that made it possible for astronauts to launch into space and return home safely — all by using slide rules and pencils in segregated facilities, according to The Human Computer Project.”I wanted to write this story once I got to college and realized the significance of my grandmother’s relationship to NASA,” Harris told NBC 7 after a meet-and-greet at San Diego Central Library Saturday. National City Community Comes Together for WWII Vet’s 100th Harris’ grandmother is Miriam Mann, who started working at NASA, then NACA, in 1943.Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA, co-authored by Sue Bradford Edwards, is written for middle school and high school students. The book shares stories about Harris’ grandmother and the dozens of black women who helped pave the way for STEM careers for women with their work in the 1940s to 1960s. Child in Car as Suspects Lead Police on Chase, 2 Arrested “I wanted to write this book for 6th to 12th graders so people would know these kinds of stories before they even get to college,” Harris said. “There were young girls in the audience who were interested in going into science and technology.”A line of fans was ready to meet Harris Saturday.”It’s important to me to share stories with my children that they don’t normally hear in our society, in school,” Candice Cothrine, a mother to five children said. “They love the movie that was inspired by books like this, by stories like this and I thought it was important to have them come and experience this author and what she had to say and her story.”Before writing the book, Harris worked on the Human Computer Project, a collaborative research project from Macalester College that sought to learn the untold history of NASA’s first team of black women mathematicians. The project inspired the movie Hidden Figures. Photo Credit: NBC 7
Source: NBC San Diego

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