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National LGBT History Month

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans have made notable contributions to engineering, science, education, and innovation. In honor of National LGBT History Month, the American Society for Engineering Education presents a diverse group of outstanding achievers:

turingALAN TURING. British mathematician (1912-1954). Celebrated for breaking the German Enigma code during World War II and hastening the Allied victory by two years, he also developed the theory underpinning computer programming and founded the discipline of artificial intelligence. Turing was openly gay in an era when homosexuality was illegal.

rideSALLY RIDE. Astronaut and physicist (1951-2012).  One of 8,000 people who answered an ad for space-program applicants, she joined NASA in 1978 and five years later, at age 32, became the first American woman and youngest astronaut ever to orbit Earth. Ride went on to work on arms control at Stanford, teach physics at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author six children’s science books with her partner of 27 years, Tam Elizabeth O’Shaughnessy.

ConwayLYNN CONWAYInventor and engineering educator. An architect of the first advanced supercomputer, Conway co-authored what became the standard textbook on very large scale integrated chip design. Inventions include a new form of Internet-based infrastructure for rapid prototyping. A National Academy of Engineering member and University of Michigan professor emerita, Conway is a transgender community activist.

RileyDONNA RILEY. Engineering educator and social justice activist. A founder of Smith College’s engineering program, Riley, an associate professor and bisexual active in LGBT issues, studies how human beliefs and behaviors influence chemical risks. In June, she received the Sterling Olmsted Award, the highest award given by ASEE’s Liberal Education/Engineering and Society Division.

wilsonTIM WILSON. Engineering educator. Chair of electrical, computer, software, and systems engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a researcher on unmanned aircraft systems, he is on the board of the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals. At Embry-Riddle, he helped win partner benefits for same-sex couples. In August, he wed environmental engineers Mack McKinley.

Read more about LGBT pioneers in engineering education in this October 2011 Prism Magazine Feature.

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