Dr. Christine M. Darden was born on September 10th, 1942 in Monroe, North Carolina and went on to be a leader in Sonic Boom technology at NASA. With parents believing strongly in education for her and her 4 siblings, Christine graduated Valedictorian of Allen High School in 1958 (prior, was named the Allen School for Negro Girls). Christine won a scholarship to Hampton University, earning a degree in Mathematics Education in 1962. Her father encouraged her to be a teacher as he wanted for her to have a steady job.
Christine had incredible intellectual curiosity. By 1963 she married fellow teacher, Walter L. Darden Jr. By 1965, she became a research assistant at Virginia State College, earning her Masters in Applied Math, while maintaining her teaching job.
Just 2 years later, Christine got a job at NASA as a data analyst solving math problems and writing computer programs. Christine would soon be on the forefront of technology! In six years, Christine was promoted to AeroSpace Engineer. Incredibly, she also went back to school to earn her PhD in Fluid Mechanics while working full time and being promoted at NASA.
At NASA, Christine thrived. In 1989, Christine developed the Sonic Boom research program at NASA with title of Technical Leader, a new division of the High Speed Research Program. Sonic Boom was a big topic as the speed planes could travel was increasing, but plane and wing structure had to adapt as the sound was disruptive as the speeds got faster. The technology needed to improve. Christine led the research at NASA, and coordinated universities, private institutions and the aviation industry around this research.
In her 40 year career at NASA, Christine also contributed to different divisions around High Speed technology, was Deputy Manager of the TU-144 (the high speed Russian supersonic aircraft), led the "Experiments Program" and research in Air Traffic Management. Christine also served on many private government projects, and authored over 50 publications on wing design, flap design, and sonic boom prediction and minimization. NASA awarded Christine the Certificate of Outstanding Performance 10 times between 1973 and 2003.
WOW. What a career. And as a mother of three, grandmother of five, and great grandmother of three, an incredible inspiration. Next time you see a plane go by, you can know that Christine's scientific work contributed to that.