“Hidden Figures” NASA pioneer Christine Darden to speak in Asheville

HIDDEN NO MORE: North Carolina native Christine Darden, the first African-American woman promoted into the Senior Executive Service at the NASA Langley Research Center, will speak at Asheville School in January. Photo courtesy of Asheville School

Press release from the Asheville School:

ASHEVILLE — The 2016 best-seller Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, which inspired the hit movie of the same name, features the lives of groundbreaking African-American women who overcame segregation and discrimination in the 1960s to play integral roles in the space program throughout their careers.

Christine Darden is featured in Shetterly’s book — she was hired at NASA in 1967 as a computer/data analyst, and over the course of her career became the first African-American woman promoted into the Senior Executive Service at the NASA Langley Research Center. Darden is from the small town of Monroe, N.C., and earned her high school degree from the Allen School in Asheville.

On Jan. 11, Darden will address the Asheville School community at 7:15 p.m. in the Walker Arts Center. Her talk, “From Monroe, N.C. to NASA,” is free and open to the public. Reserved seating is required.

Darden will discuss her life and NASA career. She was born in Monroe, the youngest of five children, and went on to earn a bachelor of science in mathematics education from Hampton University, a master of science in applied mathematics from Virginia State University, and a doctor of science in mechanical engineering from George Washington University.

After joining NASA, Darden served as the director of the Aero Performing Center Program Management Office, as senior program manager in the High-Speed Research Program Office, as the Langley assistant director for planning, and at her retirement, was the director of the Office of Strategic Communications and Education Branch. During her career, Darden authored more than 57 technical papers and articles and was an internationally recognized expert in high-speed aerodynamics and sonic boom research.

Darden has earned numerous recognitions, including two NASA Medals — one for her work and leadership of the Sonic Boom Program, and the other for her active involvement in working with and encouraging students to pursue careers in math and science. She has also received the Black Engineer of the Year Outstanding Achievement in Government Award and the Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2012, Darden was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Old Dominion University.

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