Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Optical Analysis System: Inventions by Women

Ellen Ochoa
Ellen Ochoa (1958-)
Image Credit: NASA

Ever wonder about robotically manufactured products or how a robot is guided during an operation?

While working on her doctorate in electrical engineering, exploring lasers and holograms, Ellen Ochoa co-invented an Optical Analysis System that could detect imperfections in repeating patterns.It allowed seeing an image close up within an image. The invention could be used in processes where consistency in patterns and detecting the slightest deviation were critical.
 

Patented in 1987, this system is used today in quality control operations, for inspection of equipment, and manufacture of intricate parts, via a robot controlled manufacturing process and robot controlled guidance system. The potential civilian, military and medical use has been endless. For example, in space on Mars, finding the right spot with a video camera for the spacecraft to safely land . . . or in surgery (as below). Two more related Optical Analysis Systems were also patented. 

Robotic surgery

Ellen Ochoa is mostly revered as the first Hispanic female astronaut to enter space; when she flew aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. Selected by NASA in 1990, she became the first Hispanic female astronaut in history in 1991. Since then she has flown on four space missions and clocked more than 978 hours in space. Today she is Director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Ellen with her crew for the mission STS-110 (NASA)
Early on, Ellen was a star student in California, where she grew up. Graduating at the top of her class in high school, she went on to earn a degree in physics. She had been discouraged from the field of engineering, when told it was not for women, but Ellen had come from a family not unaccustomed to adversity or discrimination. Her grandparents had emigrated from Mexico and often dealt with discrimination against Hispanics, as did her parents. The only way to deal with it was through persistence and education, something highly regarded in her family. Ellen went on to obtain an advanced degree in electrical engineering from Stanford. She is also a classical flutist and private pilot.


Ellen has received numerous awards over the years. NASA awards: Distinguished Service Medal, Exceptional Service Medal, Outstanding Leadership Medal and four Space Flight Medals. Other awards include the Hispanic Engineer Albert Baez Award for Outstanding technical Contribution to Humanity and Time magazine's Scientist of the Year.




Sources:
http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/ochoa.html; http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blochoa.htm
http://smithsonianeducation.org/scitech/impacto/graphic/ellen/biography.html
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Conference-seeks-to-solve-problems-plaguing-5943676.php
http://mag.amazing-kids.org/non-fiction/interviews/amazing-mentor/amazing-mentor-interview-with-dr-ellen-ochoa/
http://invent.answers.com/famous-inventors/what-invention-makes-ellen-ochoa-a-famous-inventor
http://myhero.com/hero.asp?hero=Ellen_Ochoa_2010

32 comments:

  1. I remember reading about her! What an incredible mind and spirit of achievement. Thank you, Sharon - this has been an amazing theme.

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    1. Thanks, Dixie...We're more than half way through the a-z. Hope you're enjoying your first time!

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  2. Knew a little about her but not the fact that she was th first Hispanic female astronaut. Enjoyed the post.

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    1. Hi Marilyn, nice to hear from you! I remember the computer was giving you fits, hope all is better now. I think this woman is absolutely amazing. She's an inspiration to many, and I hope teen girls.

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  3. Some women are so brainy, This was excellent to read, Thanks for sharing.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yes....she was truly gifted. Thanks again, Yvonne!

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  4. That is one incredibly talented lady. What an invention as well. It's ridiculous how women were told engineering was not for them. I was lucky, my school was girls only and very science and engineering orientated.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. Oh...very glad that wasn't a problem for you, Natasha. I hope this is increasingly the trend for young women starting out today. Women shouldn't be held back if science and engineering (or any field for that matter) is their calling.

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  5. Wow. What an amazing, accomplished woman. Not just brainy, but probably also driven and socially astute. It takes way more than brains alone to advance like that.

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    1. Yes, she certainly had a lot going for her, besides being smart. Reading more about her (which I didn't share all here), she credits her family for instilling a 'can do' attitude. She had confidence early on, which is hard for young women struggling with low self-esteem (something I've unfortunately seen in my family)

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  6. Why is it that I never knew women invented these things? Do we not talk about women inventors at all? That's why I'm loving your theme.

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  7. Incredible! We should be celebrating this every day. Great post!!

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  8. I second Chrys' post! She wrote exactly what I was thinking.
    Thanks for helping spread the word about these amazing women, I'm learning so much from your theme.

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    1. Happy to spread the word! Need to get over to your amazing blog next :)

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  9. Gosh Sharon - what a great post bringing to our attention this woman - she's one incredible lady .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Can't you just see her visiting a college (or high school even!) to give an inspiring talk? I can see the smiles on the girls' faces now. I hope she does if she hasn't :)

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  10. She's so brave and determined despite being female and Hispanic. A true trailblazer. Thanks for all the info about her. Have a lovely weekend! :)

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  11. Thanks Lexa....A Happy Weekend to you too!

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  12. Another great post and I did not know she did all this ...actually I did not know who she was:) Bad me. Amazing lady and one the Hispanic community can clal their own

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  13. Me too......and I've known few of the other amazing women in this series.

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  14. Wow! Great "O" scientists. I'm going to have to share your posts with my daughters.

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    1. We need to give our girls good examples to aspire to.... Ellen Ochoa definitely satisfies that!

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  15. Another remarkable woman. This is a great collection Sharon. Good work. The topic would make a good book, I reckon.

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    1. Thank you so much, David. I have considered this :)

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  16. Engineering and Flute - science and art. That seems to be a rare combination.

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    1. Hi Wendy. Musicians often are good at math too (saw this my son)

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  17. Good for her! Back in my day it was still teacher, nurse, or secretary. I chose teacher and loved it.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Sandra.....nice to meet you :)

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  18. Great story Sharon thank you. It shows what can be accomplished when refusing to conform to to the norm. She followed her dream. The sky is not the limit for Ellen Ochoa.

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  19. She's a shining star, that's for sure. Thanks, Susan

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