(Gladys West with her husband Ira West. Photo by Mike Morones/AP.)
She is one of the mathematicians responsible for developing the global positioning system, better known as GPS.
Like many of the black women responsible for American achievements in math and science, West isn't exactly a household name. But after she mentioned her contribution in a biography she wrote for a sorority function, her community turned their attention to this local "hidden figure."
West was one of only four black employees at the Naval Proving Ground in 1956.
She accepted a position at the Dahlgren, Virginia, facility doing calculations, with her early work focusing on satellites. West also programmed early computers and examined the information that determined the precise location and elevation of satellites in space. Her data collection and calculations would ultimately aid in the development of GPS.