"Teachers did not really understand girls who wanted to be pilots, and engineers."
When Donna Shirley was growing up in Wynnewood, Oklahoma in the 1950s, teachers weren't the only ones who didn't know what to do with a little girl who planned from an early age to study aeronautic engineering and had her heart set on exploring outer space. But Donna Shirley learned to fly, got her degree in aeronautic engineering, and went to work for a new government agency called NASA. At NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory, she found the perfect outlet for her enthusiasm.
Donna Shirley has commanded a wide range of projects for NASA, including exploration studies, automation and robotics, space station programs, mission design and system engineering. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, she led the team which developed projects like the Mars rover Sojourner which thrilled millions of Americans with its live pictures broadcast from Mars on July 4, 1997 as part of the Pathfinder mission.
Today, Donna Shirley applies the skills she learned in outer space exploration to teaching others how to manage their creativity in the worlds of science, and business, and looks for more efficient ways to conserve the Earth's natural resources.