Yvonne Brill

Did you know it’s national engineering week? WiSE stands for “Women in Science and ENGINEERING,” so this WiSE Wednesday, we find it only fitting to pay tribute to one of the great female engineers of modern times. Born in Manitoba in 1924, Yvonne Brill was prevented from pursuing an engineering degree because of her gender – but she didn’t let that stop her from becoming a pioneering rocket engineer! Pursuing degrees in chemistry and mathematics instead, Yvonne went on to gain work as the only female rocket scientist in the US in the 1940s. While she worked on a number of high-profile projects, including several at NASA, she is most famous for her invention of the hydrazine resistoject propulsion system, which became the industry standard due to its ability to successfully keep satellites in orbit. This achievement led Obama to award her with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2011. Right up until her passing in 2013, Yvonne devoted much of her time to mentoring women engineers and nominating women for science and technology rewards for which they were often passed over. For Yvonne Brill, it was rocket science, but she made it look easy!

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