Terrific Lives to Characteristic GPS Technological know-how Pioneer Gladys West

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Gladys West, a trailblazing African American mathematician, is being recognized for her contributions to GPS technology with a lifetime achievement award. West, whose mathematical genius was discovered in the late 1950s, directed an effort that looked at the shape of the Earth and contributed to the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS).

West was born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia in 1930 and received an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Virginia State University. After graduating, she worked as a teacher before taking a job at the U.S. Naval Proving Grounds in Dahlgren, VA. In the 1950s, West began her work with collecting satellite orbital data which she used to make geodetic calculations. According to West’s colleagues, her mathematical skills and dedication allowed the US Navy to build an incredibly accurate physical model of the Earth. For decades, the model served to justify their need for a GPS system.

Gladys West has been awarded the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in GPS technology. She is seen as a symbol of perseverance and achievement, and an example of how individuals can make a remarkable contribution to a developing technology. In addition to her own endeavors, West has also been an advocate for programs that encourage African-Americans to pursue STEM careers. Her work has impacted the navigation industry and has made a lasting impression on generations of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.

West deservedly earned the recognition she is receiving and is an inspiring example of dedication and advancement, especially for women and minorities. She is helping to shape a new path for those who will benefit from the innovation in the field of navigation and science. Truly, the world is indebted to Gladys West. [ad_1]

Developing up in King George County, Carolyn West Oglesby ’83 didn’t really consider about what her mom and dad did all working day at perform. She just realized that Gladys and Ira West were civilian mathematicians at the naval base at Dahlgren, in which the loved ones lived and she and her two brothers attended college.

Ira, Carolyn and Gladys West
Mary Washington alumna Carolyn West Oglesby, middle, and parents Ira and Gladys West go to a purpose of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

It wasn’t until lengthy immediately after Oglesby had acquired a bachelor’s diploma in economics from Mary Washington, founded her possess career, and finished her master’s and doctoral degrees that she discovered the genuine significance of her mother’s vocation. Gladys West’s work with the armed forces, using satellites to map the world, was foundational to the improvement of the World-wide Positioning Program (GPS).

The life and function of Gladys West, and her contributions to what would inevitably turn out to be an essential daily navigational instrument, are the focus of the William B. Crawley Excellent Life lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Dodd Auditorium of George Washington Corridor.

Main speaker Karen Sherry, curator at the Virginia Museum of Background and Society, will present biographical information about West, and Oglesby will be portion of a panel answering concerns about her mother. More panelists are Marvin Jackson, who labored with West to publish her autobiography, It Started With a Dream and Alan Dean, a UMW adjunct teacher, Dahlgren retiree and former colleague of Ira West.

Oglesby said that although her parents are not able to go to the lecture in individual, both equally are pleased by Gladys West’s inclusion in the Terrific Life collection. It is just the hottest illustration of public appreciation for a vocation that, even with its value and lasting influence, took spot mostly out of the spotlight.

Gladys Brown grew up in a farming spouse and children in Dinwiddie, Virginia, and as valedictorian of her segregated higher college attained a full scholarship to Virginia State Higher education, now Virginia State College. She acquired bachelor’s and master’s degrees in arithmetic just before commencing her job at Dahlgren in 1956.

There, she grew to become a person of just two women of all ages and four African-People on workers at the time. 1 of her co-workers was Ira West, who grew to become her partner.

Gladys West
Gladys West is pictured at a ceremony all through which she was honored.

Undertaking calculations at very first by hand and later working with successive generations of computers, Gladys West worked on groups mapping and measuring the Earth from area, devising packages and algorithms to review satellite facts accurately. Following West’s retirement in the late 1990s, she also acquired a doctorate.

Even as GPS products grew to become commonplace, West’s contributions were being unheralded until finally she wrote a quick bio for the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, of which both equally she and Oglesby are associates. An AKA sorority sister, Gwen James, manufactured the relationship between West’s work for the military and the ubiquitous modern-working day civilian engineering. James contacted neighborhood reporter Cathy Dyson, and the resulting 2018 report in The Free of charge Lance-Star opened the floodgates, Oglesby mentioned.

Gladys West has since acquired all over the world accolades for her occupation like a resolution by the Virginia Condition Senate, honors from the military, inclusion in museum displays, and now the Good Lives lecture.

But Oglesby stated what matters most to her mom is the possibility to interact with children in elementary and center faculty in hopes of inspiring them to try out science, engineering, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.

“Her true intention,” Oglesby reported, “is to make positive persons know they can do what they want to do. Specially young ones … they are just pleasant.”

The 20th season of UMW’s Wonderful Lives series is absolutely free and open to the general public. Lectures get position at 7:30 p.m. on pick out Tuesdays and Thursdays via March 28, 2023, at Dodd Auditorium in George Washington Corridor on campus.


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