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Google Doodle marks 110th birthday of Native American engineer Mary G. Ross

She helped to develop concepts for space travel, earth-orbiting flights and satellites.

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Google highlighted the work of Lockheed engineer Mary G. Ross on what would've been her 110th birthday in Thursday's Doodle.

Google Doodle

Google Doodle on Thursday celebrated what would've been the 110th birthday of Mary G. Ross, the first female Native American engineer.

Ross -- the great-granddaughter of the Cherokee Chief John Ross -- was born in Oklahoma on Aug. 9, 1908, and quickly showed talent in math, and a passion for aviation and science.

After Ross earned her master's degree from the Colorado State Teachers College, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation hired her as a mathematician during World War II. After the war, the company sent her to get her professional certification in aeronautical engineering from UCLA.

Lockheed then brought Ross into its Advanced Development Program at its then-secret Skunk Works think-tank. Her team worked design concepts for interplanetary space travel and satellites, including the Agena rocket, as seen in the Doodle.  At least 365 Agenas were launched between 1959 and 1987, and they were considered a major step in the Apollo program to land on the moon.

Gemini 8 Flying in Space

Neil Armstrong -- in his first trip to space -- moves his capsule towards the Agena rocket used in the 1966 Gemini 8 mission.

Bettmann

"Often at night there were four of us working until 11 p.m.," Ross said of this time in her career. "I was the pencil pusher, doing a lot of research. My state of the art tools were a slide rule and a Frieden computer. We were taking the theoretical and making it real."

She retired to Los Altos, California, in 1973 and worked on recruiting young women and Native Americans into engineering as a Fellow of the Society of Women Engineers. It set up a scholarship in her name in 1992.

Ross died April 29, 2008, just three months before her 100th birthday.

Outside the US, Google Doodle highlighted the 53rd anniversary of the passing of the Republic of Singapore Independence Act and Indian cricket player Dilip Sardesai's 78th birthday.