Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zucchini Bread: Inventions by Women A-Z

Zucchini started showing up in American gardens sometime after WWII, and it was only natural that recipes for Zucchini bread would follow in the 1960s and 1970s, at it's height by the mid-1970s. No one has taken credit for inventing the first recipe, but it does appear to be someone in the U.S. I'm almost certain it came from one of those 'WASTE NOT, WANT NOT' kitchens. 

 Was it you? 

As for zucchini itself, we have Italian-Americans to thank for its 
name and introduction in the 1890s. Zucchini like all squash has its origins in the Americas, but the variety Americans are familiar with was actually developed in Italy. 

 In 1901, a California newspaper wrote, "Zucchini' from Northern Italy. One of the most important vegetables of the Venetians, and worthy of serious consideration by our truck growers." ["Plants of All Climes," Guy N. Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, February 22, 1901].

Everyone has heard of how easy it is to grow zucchini. So well in fact, that by the end of the season, you can hardly give it away. But there are factors that make growing this squash difficult. High temperature, poor soil and too much moisture can make zucchini bitter, which probably means I'll have to forgo growing it at my home. 

It  was 107 degrees last August when we moved here. If conditions are ideal, zucchini is tastiest eaten alone, picked small, probably no more than one and half inches in diameter. 

Beyond that size, the squash is really only good for bread. Left to grow, zucchini can grow up to a meter in length or more. The longest zucchini on record was 7 feet 10.3 inches long (Ontario, Canada, 2005). Keep it under a foot. It's easy to shred for the freezer and you can make bread over the winter. 

By the way, National Zucchini Bread Day was yesterday, April 25!

(From my kitchen)

Pineapple Zucchini Bread

3 eggs (beaten)
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini (don't peel)
1 can crushed pineapple (8 oz)
3 cups white flour 
 2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1-3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup nuts
1 cup raisins

Beat first four ingredients until thick and foamy. Stir in zucchini and pineapple. Mix remaining ingredients together and stir into first mixture. 
Bake at 350 degrees. Makes 2 loaves.


Z end..............zzzzzzzzzzzzz


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

Sharon M. Himsl

Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
Published with Evernight Teen: 
~~The Shells of Mersing

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Yellow Mustard Powder: Inventions by Women A-Z

In 1720, Mrs. Clements of Durham was more than just "an old lady," as one English record states. She changed the entire mustard industry. By using a special milling process  to grind and process yellow mustard seed, she produced a spicy, pungent mustard flour that rivaled any mustard on the market.

The old method of producing mustard was to steep the grain in a liquid before crushing the seeds. However, much was dissolved (and lost) in the soaking medium and the husks were removed. Mustard was then sold in balls, mixed with vinegar, cinnamon and honey.

Mrs. Clements' method was to crack open the seed to release the dry material within. The tiny flecks of spicy dust inside were called the "royal flower of mustard." Once ground, the mustard went through additional processing, similar to processing wheat flour. The end result was a finely textured mustard flour rich with flavor. She called it Durham Mustard.

Mustard field

Careful to guard her milling method, she set off on horseback to peddle her product, frequenting London often. Word reached King George I and he became one of her loyal buyers. News spread to the locals who loved copying anything the royals liked, and as a result, Mrs. Clements made a small fortune. For a time Durham dominated the mustard industry until rival companies took over. The monopoly was pretty much over by 1810. Today Durham Mustard is called English Mustard and owned by Colmans of Norwich. (No one knows Mrs. Clements' first name). 


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for X-rays on Wheels: Inventions by Women A-Z

(1920) Marie Curie 1867-1934
When Germany declared war on France in 1914, the renown physicist-chemist Marie Curie was prepared to do her part. She was even willing to donate her two Nobel Prize gold medals for melting down to assist in the country's metal shortage. The French National Bank refused her offer. 

France had been home to Polish born Maria Salomea Sklodowska since 1895 with her marriage to French scientist Pierre Curie. Together Pierre and Marie shared a Nobel prize in 1903 for their discovery of spontaneous radioactivity. Marie then won a second Nobel Prize in 1911 for her discovery of the elements polonium and radium (she coined the term radioactivity). Both made Marie the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to receive a second Nobel Prize. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris. Marie never filed a patent, for fear it would hinder other researchers from making further discoveries.

Pierre and Marie Curie in their lab
Marie was dedicated to her field and loved working alongside her husband Pierre, but life dealt her a blow with his tragic death in 1906, when the wheels of a horse drawn carriage crushed his skull. Widowed, gifted, and well educated, she was in a position to offer her services during the war. 

Marie saw that the military's health services were in poor shape. She knew that doctors could benefit from X-ray equipment to confirm broken bones and locate bullets and shrapnel in their patients. The French government gave Marie permission to set up France's first military radiology centers, and she became the Director of the Red Cross Radiology Service. With zeal and passion, Marie designed and setup 20 mobile X-ray stations and 200 hospital stations. 

For the mobile units, she began by borrowing Renault trucks from her rich female acquaintances, and convinced automobile body shops to convert the vehicles into medical X-ray labs. She begged manufacturers and other wealthy acquaintances to purchase X-ray equipment and auxiliary generators (a "dynamo,"  worked by the engine, gave the electric current required).

X-rays on Wheels: the petite Curie

The 20 fully equipped mobile units became known as petite Curies (little Curies), or as some call them, X-rays on Wheels. Some 150 women were trained on how to operate the X-ray equipment. Marie too received training, including a lesson on human anatomy, and how to drive the vehicle, change a tire, and repair a engine. Marie visited the battle front with her 17-year-old daughter Irene, who became her faithful assistant and also received training. Approximately 1,000,000 wounded soldiers were examined in the petite Curies and 1.25 million X-ray films taken. Marie traveled all across Northern Europe helping wherever she could.  
Irene and Marie Curie at a hospital station
 At the end of WWI, Marie returned to her research of radium. Her exposure to radiation as a result, including her unshielded exposure to radiation in the X-ray stations, caused an early death from aplastic anemia. The effects of radiation were unknown at the time. Her papers written in 1890 are still radioactive and stored in lead-lined boxes, and protection is needed to read them. Even her cookbooks are radioactive. Reading her story, one senses a great purpose in life and a willingness to sacrifice. Her words sum it up beautifully:

 "Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe we are gifted for something and that this thing must be obtained."
-Marie Curie


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Windshield Wiper: Inventions by Women A-Z

Streetcar New York City 1903
Ever wonder what people did before the invention of the windshield wiper? Mary Anderson of Alabama was visiting New York City, riding on a trolley, when it began to rain. As it poured, sleet began
piling up on the windshield and the driver could barely see. All he could do was stick his head out the side and reach with his arms to wipe the windshield. Other streetcar drivers were struggling likewise.

Mary Anderson (1866-1953)
Back in Birmingham, Mary thought long and hard about the problem, determined to find a solution. One thing she knew for sure: visibility in rain, sleet, and snow was a
safety concern for all drivers of vehicles. In 1903 she patented a "Window Cleaning Device" for electric cars and other vehicles. The device consisted of two spring-loaded rubber blades that attached to the top of the windshield and swung independently across the pane as needed. The blades were operated individually by the driver from inside the vehicle with a handle. In dry weather the blades could easily be removed. The device seemed novel and greatly needed, but was rejected. The main complaint was the device would be too much of a distraction for the driver, but it appears she only made one serious marketing attempt, with a Canadian firm, who said in their rejection, "we do not consider it to be of such commercial value as would warrant our undertaking its sale."  

Older photo of Mary with original patent
 Mary did receive some royalties but not much. By 1916 her Window Cleaning Device was well on its way to becoming the standard on all cars. The following year another woman inventor (Charlotte Bridgewood) patented an automatic windshield wiper called the Storm Windshield Cleaner (Charlotte never received much either). 

For some reason, Mary let her patent expire in 1920, which would have been the start of the big auto industry boom, with the mass production of the Model T Ford. It does seem Mary's invention could have made her a fortune, but priorities obviously took her down a different path, although I can only speculate. 

1915 Ford Model T---with (Mary's) Windshield Wipers

As an unmarried woman income was apparently not a problem. She lived comfortably, having operated a cattle ranch and vineyard in California in her early years. After a time she returned home to manage the family's real estate and care for an ailing aunt, who subsequently died and left the family a fortune. 

Clearly, Mary was the inventor of the windshield wiper, and from the older picture above, she appears proud of her accomplishment. When Mary died at age 87, the New York Times and Time magazine made a point of printing her obituary and giving her special mention as its inventor.

Others have honored her as well . . . 

"Windshield Wiper Inventor, Miss Mary Anderson, Dies." Birmingham Post-Herald, June 29, 1953. 

"Southern Belle Invented Wiper for Windshield." Birmingham News, February 20, 1977.


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vacuum Canning: Inventions by Women A-Z

Amanda Theodosia Jones (1835-1914)
Amanda Theodosia Jones was one of twelve children born to Henry and Mary Mott Jones of East Bloomfield, New York. They were a book-loving family, Amanda later wrote in her autobiography (1910). "Books were more necessary than daily bread to our parents," and by the age of 15 she was teaching school.  

Amanda was also into spiritualism, as were many in her time during the 1850s. She began hearing a spirit voice at the age of eight, and through dreams, visions and voices, the spirits guided her throughout her life. As a spiritualist, she believed that spirits of the dead could communicate with the living....usually through a medium, and Amanda was considered a medium. Guided by a prophetic dream, she decided to move to Chicago in 1869, where she became a magazine editor, including one for children, and began writing poetry. By 1870 she had published two books of poetry.

Also interested in inventions, one day she awoke from a nap with an amazing idea for one, only this idea, she wrote in her autobiography, was hers alone. Whether the idea came from her spirit muse has been debated, since Amanda did after all credit so many events in her life with guidance from the spirits. One source claims she was advised by the spirit of her dead brother that a better way to preserve fruit existed. Nevertheless, the idea was valid and Amanda asked the help of a college professor (Leroy C. Cooley) to test her idea. In her book she wrote, "I see how fruit can be canned without cooking it. The air must be exhausted from the cells and fluid made to take its place. The fluid must be airless also--a light syrup of sugar and water--that, or the juice of fruit." This was different from the canning method of Nicolas-Francois Appert (1810), which required the food be well cooked, and resulted in loss of flavor. 

Antique Canning Jars

After some experimentation, they managed to seal the canning jars by raising the internal temperature to 120 degrees F. The fruit expanded (but was still uncooked) and air was forced out of the jar. Amanda applied for a patent, seven total in 1873, and to Professor Cooley's credit, he left the honor entirely to Amanda. His name was not on the patent. They called the vacuum canning process the Jones process, and also the Pure Food Vacuum Preserving Process. It became the standard method used in the United States.
Diagram of the fruit jar in patent 1873
Unrelated, Amanda also invented a safety valve to control the amount of oil used in burners, which was patented as a Safety Burner in 1880. A Pennsylvania man, learning of her mechanical ability, had explained that existing burners were dangerous. It was so innovative that the Navy was able to convert from coal to oil for fuel. Unfortunately, there was never enough money to capitalize on the invention.

Eventually, Amanda turned her fruit jar patent into a profitable business. She founded the Woman's Canning and Preserving Company and only employed women. Although unmarried, Amanda did not consider herself a feminist. She merely wanted to give women the opportunity to earn their way with dignity, when widowed or unmarried without male protection. Women were the stockholders and held all executive positions. 

The company was a whopping success, receiving orders for 24,000 cases in the first three months. Greed took over, however, and the company president and stockholders wanted more. Jones hesitantly agreed with the president to accept a group of male investors into the company. They invested $80,000, and in return, the agreement went, they would manage the business and receive half the profits. Three months later, Amanda was forced out of the company, and the company went on to become a multimillion dollar industry.

Amanda has been listed in "Who’s Who in America" twice, once in 1912-1913, and second in the 1914-1915 women’s division of "Who’s Who in America."

born inot book-loving family.

Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

Sharon M. Himsl

Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
Published with Evernight Teen: 
~~The Shells of Mersing

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Unknown: Inventions by Women A-Z

The unknown inventors are all the women out there past and present who have had great ideas, implemented them, and never filed a patent.

Whether it was to cobble parts together to
make something new and amazing......


Whether it was to map a new direction and way of thinking.....

Whether it was to make the magical a reality.....

This post is about the ingenuity of women everywhere, 
who used/use their brains to solve a problem. 

                         Interested in filing a patent?

According the United States Patent and Trademark Office, there are three types of patents:

1) Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;

2) Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture;

3) Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Telephone Switching System: Inventions by Women A-Z

Erna Schneider Hoover (New Jersey, 1926-)
 We can thank Erna Schneider Hoover for adding some sanity to the complicated telephone switching system in the 1960s with her patent for a computerized telephone switching system in 1971. Telephone call centers, if flooded with too many calls at once, could freeze up. Frustrated customers had to endure the operator's lament, "I'm sorry sir/mam, the circuits are busy." I know....I was a telephone operator in 1969. When a switch froze up or was down, the customer wasn't happy. 

A typical switchboard in 1960s. It looks identical to the one I worked at for Pacific Northwest Bell in Tacoma, WA. Note the plaid skirt on the left. Very popular then!
A typical electronic Telephone Switching System in 1960s. When the switch went down (in the basement below us), we knew the guys were hard at work! (Think of a switch as the device that connects one telephone line with another telephone line; it enables conversation)

Erna Schneider Hoover is considered a pioneer in computer technology. Her patent was one of the first software patents issued. It is interesting her first degrees were in medieval philosophy and history (Wellesley College), and she had a Ph.d (Yale) in philosophy and mathematics. She later said after being hired by Bell Laboratories, that her training was equivalent to earning a master's in computer science. Bell Labs was eager to replace their older electronic relay circuitry, and computer technology appeared to be the solution. 

Erna got right to work, but in the process found herself flat on her back in the hospital . . . about to give birth to one of her three daughters! With pad in hand she persevered and designed a new switching system for Bell Labs. While on maternity leave, the patent papers were hand delivered for her to sign. She had solved the company's problem, and the principles of her design are still in use today. She was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2008.


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Spread Spectrum Technology: Inventions by Women A-Z

Hedy Lamarr 1914-2000
Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler was born in Vienna, Austria in 1914. At the age of 18 the then Austrian actress had already starred in a German film (1933). The following year she married Austrian millionaire Friedrich Mandl and life took a dramatic turn. Hedwig found herself in a tightly controlled relationship with a man she couldn't love. Her wealthy husband was a Nazi sympathizer and an arms dealer. 

Friedrich insisted Hedwig attend the lavish parties held in their home. Their guests included the infamous Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and their military and scientific cohorts. For four years, Hedwig learned about the science involved, listening to the scientists and other professional experts expound on the latest military technology and Nazi weaponry. But she grew to hate the Nazis and her husband, longing to escape, and one day, disguising herself as her maid, escaped to Paris (1937), where she met MGM's head, Louis B. Mayer. By the time they arrived in America by boat, she had a movie contract, a new name as Hedy Lamarr, and a new life.

Mayer promoted Hedy as the "world's most beautiful woman," and she would eventually make 25 films, starring with Hollywood's greatest. She was both beautiful and talented. But Hedy knew there was more to life than being glamorous and relishing the limelight. "Any girl can be glamorous," she said. "All she has to do is stand still and look stupid." Moreover, her experience in Germany continued to plague her. The world was fast approaching the outbreak of World War II, and as more German submarines torpedoed the passenger ships in the Atlantic, she began to wonder if she could help.

In 1940 she met composer George Antheil and shared her idea for an invention she thought could help the Navy. She had already setup a special room in her home, complete with a drafting board, engineering books, special lighting, and tools. As she explained to George, she knew that radio-controlled torpedoes went off course if someone jammed the signal. However, if the transmitter and receiver were made to "hop frequencies" simultaneously, she believed, one could avoid jamming the signal. In other words, a signal couldn't be intercepted and classified messages could be transmitted and received in secret

George's background in synchronizing more than a dozen player pianos worked on the same principle, by hopping from one note to another. Together they combined Hedy's idea with Antheil's piano technology (he added a coded ribbon), and two years later (1942) they filed a patent for a Secret Communication System, or as it became known, Spread Spectrum Technology

To their surprise, the Navy rejected the invention, finding the piano technology to be an odd component. "You want to put a self-playing piano in a torpedo?" the Navy is quoted as saying. Concentrate your war efforts as an actress on promoting war bonds, they told her, which she subsequently did and raised a whopping seven million in one evening alone. She signed the patent over to the Navy and never received a penny. 

1942 diagram in patent
(under Hedy's married name at time)

The Navy did eventually appreciate the invention's value, twenty years later during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. But today her invention is everywhere, and it's hard to imagine our lives without Spread Spectrum Technology. Below are some of the technologies impacted:

(I don't know about you, but this list really surprised me!)
  • GPS
  • WiFi
  • Fax machines
  • Cellular phones
  • Wireless LANS
  • Bar code scanner
  • Palmtop computer
  • Radio modem 
  • Digital dispatch
  • Computer data
  • Email
  • Bluetooth
Recognition came late in life in 1997 when Hedy received the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award. This was followed by the BULBIE™ Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award. By then, she had lost her beauty and youth, and worth, according to her son. He accepted the award in her place. Lastly, in 2014, Hedy was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Rolling Pin: Inventions by Women A-Z

A magazine in 1891, Inventive Age, printed in its "New Patents for Sale" column the following:

"Catharine Deiner advertised the rolling pin for which she had received a patent only the month before. 'Improved rolling pin is for sale. It consists of a rolling pin with an adjustable sleeve, which when placed on the pin gives the operator four cake cutters, making in possible to rapidly cut up dough into cakes without waste. It can be used in bakeries and families.'" 

Now that is one complicated rolling pin. Take a look at the patent illustration itself, dated 1891 for Catharine Deiner of Lebanon, PA.

Catharine wrote in the patent: 

"My invention relates to an attachment to a rolling-pin, by which dough may be cut into various shapes and forms."

 So reading through the patent, I believe this is what she meant: 
  • Figures 6, 7 and 8 are the shapes and forms that can be cut.
  • Figures 2 and 5 show the cutter positions. 
  • Figure 4 is an end view of a zig-zag cutter.
  • Figure 3 is an end piece showing how it's fastened. 

Pretty complicated, if you ask me, but wouldn't it be fun to try one of these? I wonder if any still exist.

 Have you seen this rolling pin?

Feminine Ingenuity: How Women Inventors Changed America, Anne L Macdonald, Ballantine, 1994.

Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Q-Tips: Inventions by Women A-Z

Q-tips. One of the more ingenious of inventions in the 1920s. Over the years my family has used a Q-tip to clean the skin and ears (pet and human), for cleaning electronics, keyboards and similar, as paint and glue brushes, as medicine applicators, and more.

Leo Gerstenzang
But I'm cheating here, I admit, in my search for a 'Q' invention. You see, the Q-tip was actually invented (1923) by a Polish-born American businessman named Leo Gerstenzang. 

But hold on . . . stop the train, it's not Leo I wish to talk about. Leo's dear wife Ziuta played a very important role in the Q-tip's discoveryLeo was observing Ziuta bathe their

baby one day and noticed she often would wrap a piece of cotton on the end of a toothpick to clean the baby's ears. A bell went off, and he suddenly realized he had just discovered a product women would buy and use, and he was absolutely right.  

Unfortunately, Ziuta's influence was never officially confirmed, so her role in the Q-tip invention is considered somewhat legendary by some. Personally, I think it is extremely likely she did spark Leo's idea. Men seldom participated in the care of their children in the 1920s, but it would have been natural for him to observe Ziuta in this role. It is rather sad Leo or other family members never confirmed her role. An online search revealed nothing, not even a photo. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that Ziuta's idea and Leo's invention went on to make a nice income for the family and their heirs.

Vintage Q-Tip BoxAs you probably know, Q-tips are no longer considered safe for an infant's ears or ours (at least according to doctors), and maybe not the dog's ears. They were promoted for such use well into the 1960s for ear wax cleaning and “water in the ear.” But they still have a multitude of other great uses. I always have a ready supply. Do you use Q-tips?

Leo went on to found the Leo Gerstenzang Infant Novelty Company. The company marketed baby care accessories, including Q-tips, which were first sold as "Baby Gays," and later (1926) changed to the name we know today. Leo certainly deserves credit for designing the marketed Q-tip and filing the patent as inventor, but most people haven't a clue as to the origin of Leo's invention. This is your opportunity to thank Ziuta Gerstenzang for her role

Boric Tipped Baby Gays
A 1927 Ad from Pittsburgh Press archives

What do you use Q-tips for?


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Paper Bag Machine: Inventions by Women A-Z

Margaret E. Knight (1838-1914)
In 1850, Margaret E. Knight of York, Maine was one smart twelve-year-old. She had just made her first invention, a device to stop cotton mill machinery from operating, when thread or something else got stuck.

While visiting a cotton mill where her brothers worked as overseers, she had witnessed an accident. A thread had snagged, causing a shuttle to fly off its spool, and stabbed a young boy. As shocking as it was, accidents with flying shuttles were not uncommon. Eyes were lost and other injuries inflicted. 

Margaret thought it through and came up with a device that worked. It was never patented, but by the time she was a teenager, news had spread and the device was being used in mills elsewhere. It saved workers from who knows how many injuries.

1834 Lowell, Mass. A typical cotton mill in Margaret's time

Margaret liked inventing things and never forgot her first experience. After the Civil War, she found herself working for the Columbia Paper Bag  Company in Massachusetts. It seemed to her a better bag could be made, one that had a flat bottom and could stand up alone, making it easier to pack. She made drawings and designed a model for a machine that glued the bottom together. The machine was patented in 1871, and the new paper bag was a huge success. 

paper bag machine
Margaret's Paper Bag Machine
Unfortunately, a patent was not enough to prove that Margaret was the sole inventor. Charles Annan, who had watched her machine being built, stole her idea and filed a patent in his own name. Outraged, Margaret took him to court, where Annan then argued before the judge that she wasn't capable of creating such a device. Margaret did not back down and proved in court that she did indeed invent, build, and patent the machine. 

Margaret went on to receive over twenty patents for her inventions, among them a rotary engine, shoe-cutting machine, and a dress and skirt shield. When she died, her obituary described her as a "woman Edison." 

Image result for free image of flat bottom sack In 2006 she was inducted into the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame. Her paper bag machine is still used today, with over 7000 machines in existence worldwide that continue to make the ever popular flat-bottom bag. Suppliers are in the U.S.A,. Germany, France and Japan. 


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

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.


About Me

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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.