Professional Aviation Engineer sets an Example for other Women to follow her Trail

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For many years the aviation profession has, unfortunately, been dominated by men and the involvement of women in engineering has been unnecessarily low. It is tremendous that Boston University has lauded one of its alumnae (pictured ↑above) in the article↓below. Such exemplary role models should impact both regrettable trends.

Consistent with these statements, Ruth A. MacFarlane Hunter was the only woman enrolled in Boston University’s College of Engineering’s 1964 aeronautical engineering class. She earned a Master’s in the aeronautics and astronautics at the University of Michigan, was recognized with a NASA fellowship and was the only American to be awarded an Amelia Earhart Fellowship.

Her first job was an Air Force contractor for an aerodynamic design and software project. NASA’s Cambridge Research Center then involved Ms. Hunter in developing software applications for unmanned exploration of the planets using pattern recognition of landscapes and clouds. Her next assignment brought the BU graduate to civil aviation and the tracking of aircraft departures and arrivals.

Eleven years out from college, she moved to the US Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center as a multi-disciplinary engineer tackling some of the most daunting technologies like assessing the fuel efficiency of automotive, truck and bus engine efficiencies. She then turned her talent toward military applications; one of her more significant tasks was, in the wake of the September 11, 2001, the creation of equipment for search-and-rescue and first responder efforts.

After some other fascinating jobs, Ms. Hunter was named head of the Aviation Safety Management Systems Division, where she is a principal technical advisor. Based on that work, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation noted that her work about such vehicle was groundbreaking and comprehensive. Her current focus is analyzing NextGen’s delivery of greater efficiency and safety.

Ms. Hunter’s impact on her profession and her workplace was summarized by a colleague:

“’Ruth expends a tremendous amount of energy guiding and supporting less experienced coworkers, and she does so in the most productive and enjoyable way that you almost don’t realize she is actively mentoring you,’ Hebert says. ‘It’s as if she were the best college professor you ever had, and at the same time a trusted friend. Her insight and advice are always spot-on.’”

Seeing such personal success and such astute application of her engineering skills should attract young women to the same educational and career path. Great example, Ms. Hunter.

ARTICLE: The Woman with the Groundbreaking Mind

ENG alum’s career devoted to addressing critical aviation challenges

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