Dr. Gladys West: The Mathmetician Who Pioneered GPS Technology

Dr. Gladys West: The Mathmetician Who Pioneered GPS Technology

Born in 1930 in Virginia, West's love for math began at a young age. She excelled in her studies, earning a full scholarship to Virginia State College, where she studied mathematics. After graduation, West began working as a teacher before pursuing her master's degree in mathematics at the same institution.

In 1956, West began her career as a mathematician at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Virginia. There, she was part of a team tasked with developing a mathematical model of the Earth's shape, which would later become crucial in the development of GPS.

West's work on this project involved collecting and analyzing data from various sources, including satellites and telescopes. She spent years honing her skills, developing complex algorithms and programs to process the data and create a detailed model of the Earth's shape.

Her work was groundbreaking and had far-reaching implications beyond just the development of GPS. The model she created was used to improve the accuracy of long-range missile systems, as well as other scientific endeavors, such as weather forecasting and oceanography.

Despite the significance of her work, West's contributions were largely unrecognized for many years. It wasn't until 2018, when a reporter contacted her to learn more about her role in the development of GPS, that her story began to gain wider recognition. 

West's legacy as a mathematician and pioneer in the field of GPS is a testament to the importance of diversity in science and technology. Her work has had a profound impact on the world we live in today, and serves as an inspiration for young black students who aspire to pursue careers in STEM fields.


As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, let us remember and honor the contributions of trailblazers like Gladys West, whose dedication, talent, and perseverance have made the world a better place.


Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladys_West


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