"Hidden Figure" of GPS (Commonwealth Classroom)

Time Period
1925 to Today
Media Type
Black History
Military History
Science & Technology
Women's History
VMHC Curators

In this virtual event on February 19, 2021, VMHC Curator Karen Sherry led audiences in a conversation with Dr. Gladys West. Dr. West, a Dinwiddie County native,  helped develop GPS and other satellite mapping technology during her long career at the Naval Surface Weapons Center at Dahlgren, Virginia. Dr. West shared stories from her remarkable life, including rising from rural poverty to gain an education and facing racism and sexism as one of the first two black women to join Dahlgren in 1956. Since retiring, she has continued to value education: she earned a Ph.D. and established a scholarship fund for students seeking careers in STEM fields. Dr. West has also published an autobiography, It Began with a Dream (2020).

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

Want to listen to an audio-only version of this lecture? Listen now on Soundcloud.