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2019 Heroes

Barbara Liskov

Barbara Liskov earned her doctorate in computer science at Stanford in 1972, one of the first women ever to earn a PhD in the field. She soon became a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where over her distinguished and still-active career her seminal work would be recognized with the John von Neumann Medal from the IEEE, the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery and a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Women Engineers. Liskov is perhaps best known for inventing the concept of data abstraction, which became the foundation of the way software systems are organized today. In 2003, she was named one of the 50 most important women in science by Discover Magazine.

Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Stanford and soon joined NASA as a research engineer in 1988. In 1990, she was selected as an astronaut and became the first Latina in space, flying aboard Space Shuttle Discovery in 1993. She would go on to log almost 1,000 hours on four separate trips to space. Ochoa then became the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center, the second woman director in the Center’s history, and the first Latina to hold the role. Ochoa received the Distinguished Service Medal, NASA’s highest award, and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award. She is proud to have no fewer than six schools named for her, including an elementary school, a public charter middle school and a prep academy.

Walter Vincenti

Walter Vincenti

Walter Vincenti, who will soon celebrate his 102nd birthday, earned his engineer’s degree at Stanford in 1940 and cut his aeronautical teeth at the famed Ames Laboratory at Moffett Field at the onset of World War II. He built a small wind tunnel and unified the existing theories into a single mathematical model predicting air flow over wings nearing the sound barrier. In 1957, he was offered a full professorship at Stanford and charged with revitalizing the aeronautics program. Later, Vincenti pivoted his career toward scholarly pursuit of the history of technology, a field in which he excelled equally. In 2016, Vincenti received the Guggenheim Medal, the premier recognition for lifetime achievement in aeronautics.