• unknown (b.)

Bio/Description

Born in 1938, she graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana in 1958 having majored in mathematics. Moving from Indiana to Massachusetts for graduate studies, she instead was hired at MIT where she started her career as a software developer learning from hands-on experience. Currently the founder and CEO of software development company Hamilton Technologies, Inc. in Cambridge, MA, she is best recognized for her role as an Award-winning American NASA scientist and mathematician who, as the Director of the Software Engineering Division at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (CSDL), worked to develop the Apollo program. The Apollo program was a space flight program launched by NASA under the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower which landed the first humans on the moon with the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. She is responsible for pioneering the Apollo and Skylab on board flight software and its multiple versions for multiple missions. Before her developmental contributions, the on board flight software needed to land on the moon did not exist. She was the individual to coin the term “software engineering”. Dr. Paul Curto, senior technologist for NASA's inventions and contributions board noted her as having developed pioneering concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling, end-to-end testing, and man-in-the-loop decision capability, such as priority displays which then became the foundation for ultra reliable software design. The surrounding contextual setting for her developments was one in which computer science and software engineering were not yet disciplines; instead learning was done on the job with hands on experience. She rose through the ranks by gaining experience and contributing towards uncharted territory in space science. Her first award came in 1986 when she was awarded the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award by the Association of Women in Computing. In 2003, she was granted a NASA Exceptional Space Act Award for her scientific and technical contributions and included with the award; she received a check for $37,200, the largest award to an individual in NASA's history. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has commented saying “The concepts she and her team created became the building blocks for modern software engineering. It's an honor to recognize Ms. Hamilton for her extraordinary contributions to NASA.” As a NASA scientist, she worked to gain hands on experience during a time when computer science and software engineering courses or disciplines were non-existent. She developed hands-on experience in the field of system design and software development, enterprise and process modeling, preventative systems design, development paradigm, formal systems (and software) modeling languages, system oriented objects for systems modeling and development, automated life cycle environments, methods for maximizing software reliability, methods for maximizing reuse, domain analysis, correctness by built-in language properties, open architecture techniques for robust systems, full life cycle automation, quality assurance, seamless integration (including systems to software), asynchronous, distributed processing systems, error detection and recovery techniques, man/machine interface systems, operating systems, end to end testing techniques and life cycle management techniques. This led her to develop concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling, end-to-end testing, and man-in-the-loop decision capability, such as priority displays which then became the foundation for ultra-reliable software design. She was famously noted as solving a problem with the Apollo 11 mission just three minutes before it reached the moon's surface. To save the day, her software proved valuable in over-riding a command to switch the flight computer's priority processing to a radar system whose 'on' switch had been manually activated due to a faulty written operations script provided to the crew. Her current activities as of February 2010 include fulfilling her role as the founder and CEO of Hamilton Technologies, Inc., which is a business developed around the Universal Systems Language (USL) which is based on her Development Before The Fact (DBTF) paradigm for designing systems and developing software. She has published 130 papers, proceedings and reports concerned with the 60 projects and 6 major programs with which she has been involved.
  • Gender:

    Female
  • Noted For:

    Award-winning American NASA computer scientist and mathematician who worked to develop the Apollo program
  • Category of Achievement:

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