Google Doodle Celebrates Mary G. Ross, the First American Indian Female Engineer

Mary G. Ross Google Doodle
Courtesy of Google

Google Doodle of Mary G. Ross

Google is celebrating Mary G. Ross, the first American Indian female engineer, with a colorful Google Doodle tribute on Thursday (Aug. 9).

Today would have been Ross’ 110th birthday. Her major aerospace contributions include interplanetary space travel, manned and unmanned earth-orbiting flights and orbiting satellites.

The great-great granddaughter to Chief John Ross of the Cherokee Nation, Ross developed a passion for aviation and the sciences, eventually leading her to teach in Oklahoma for 9 years and later pursue a master’s degree in astronomy and rocket science at the University of Northern Colorado.

She was hired by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation during World War II as a mathematician, where she was encouraged to earn her professional certification in aeronautical engineering from UCLA in 1949, after which she broke new ground as one of the 40 founding members of the top-secret Skunk Works team. She developed the initial design concepts for interplanetary space travel (including missions to Venus and Mars) and satellites including the Agena rocket (depicted in today’s Doodle).

"Often at night there were four of us working until 11 p.m.," she once recalled. "I was the pencil pusher, doing a lot of research. My state of the art tools were a slide rule and a Frieden computer. We were taking the theoretical and making it real."

Ross opened doors for future generations of women and American Indians to encourage their pursuits in STEM fields. She was also a member and fellow of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), which established a scholarship in 1992 in Ross’s name that aims to support future female engineers and technologists.