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STEM Celebrity Spotlight: Annie Easley

Updated: Jan 1

By Ishika Desai


Annie Easley was a premier NASA computer scientist who played a pivotal role in NASA’s space exploration missions in the 1960s. Easley was born on April 23, 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama. Throughout her life, Easley wanted to head into pharmacy, studying at Xavier University for two years to do so. Early on in her life, Easley showcased her advocacy by preparing African American members of her community for their voter registration tests when they were designed as barriers.


In 1954, Annie Easley and her husband moved to Cleveland Ohio. Here, Easley read an article about two twin sisters working at the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory as human computers. When this organization was turned into NASA, Annie Easley immediately applied for a job due to her strong background in math thus beginning her 34-year-long career with NASA. 


From the beginning of her career, Easley was a frontrunner regardless of the racial barriers placed on her during that era. Her mathematical talents were used to launch John Glenn into orbit in 1962 and create nuclear-powered rocket systems like the Centaur high-energy booster rocket, which had its launch a year later. When machine computers began to replace human computers, Easley learned programming languages like the Formula Translating System (Fortran) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), making her a pioneer in the field of computer science. In 1977, Easley finished her education at Cleveland State University, receiving a degree in math while also working full-time at NASA. 34 years later, Annie Easley passed away on June 25, 2011, at the age of 78. 


Annie Easley’s story showcases the power and perseverance of the human mind. Her intelligence and resourcefulness propelled NASA to the forefront of space exploration and computer science. From Annie Easley, it can be learned that perseverance can lead to great advancements. 


Works Cited

“Annie Easley, an African American Mathematician, and Computer

Scientist Was Born in April 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama.” AWIS,

awis.org/historical-women/annie-easley/. Accessed 23 Dec.

2023. 

Carpenter, Jana. “Annie J. Easley (1933-2011)." 6 Mar. 2023,

www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/annie-j-easley-

1933-2011/. 


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