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If you like Donna Shirley's story, you might also like:
Elizabeth Blackburn,
Linda Buck,
Sylvia Earle,
Gertrude Elion,
Daniel Goldin,
Susan Hockfield,
Meave Leakey,
Paul MacCready,
John Mather,
Story Musgrave
and Alan Shepard

Donna Shirley also appears in the video:
Mystery of the Cosmos: Life's Place in the Universe

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Donna Shirley in the Achievement Curriculum section:
The Cosmos

Related Links:
Managing Creativity

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Donna Shirley
Donna Shirley
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Donna Shirley Biography

Mars Exploration Program

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Donna Shirley was raised in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, population 2.500. Her parents encouraged her academic studies, but most people were surprised when the very small girl took an intense interest in flying airplanes. Her father and uncle encouraged her, and before she was out of her teens, Donna Shirley was soloing and earning her pilot's licenses. She entered college in the 1950s, with the express purpose of studying aeronautic engineering when engineering schools were still an all-male bastion. From her early teens she had been fascinated by science fiction and dreamed of exploring Mars. Her very first post-graduate assignments led her into the technology which has played a role in the actual exploration of the red planet.

After graduation, Donna Shirley worked as a spec writer in St. Louis before winning a job with NASA. She worked on the very first unmanned mission to Mars in 1966 and continued her association with Mars research, a devotion that came to splendid fruition on July 4, 1997. The entire world watched as the Mars Pathfinder and the Sojourner Rover successfully landed on Mars. Two months later the Mars Global Surveyor successfully went into orbit around the red planet. Not only were these events two of the U.S. space program's greatest successes, but they may well provide the world with some of the most important scientific data of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Donna Shirley has written an autobiography, Managing Martians: The Extraordinary Story of a Woman's Lifelong Quest to Get to Mars -- and of the Team Behind the Space Robot That Has Captured the Imagination of the World. It's the story of her life from her childhood in Oklahoma to managing the Mars Exploration Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It chronicles the struggles and triumphs of the Pathfinder and Sojourner Rover teams, and tells the ongoing saga of the Mars Global Surveyor currently orbiting and imaging the red planet.

For some years, Donna has taught a course called Managing Creativity, based on her experience at NASA and JPL. After leaving NASA in 1998, she wrote an on-line book called Managing Creativity: A Practical Guide to Inventing, Developing and Producing Innovative Products In the book Donna Shirley shares her strategies for using the collective creativity of groups to develop ideas and efficiently and effectively turn them into real products. In covering such topics as: Using Creative Models, Building and Using Creative Teams, Creative Communication, Creative Planning, Creating Within Constraints, and Unleashing Your Own Creativity, Donna provides an invaluable tool for managers who want to get the most out of their teams.

This page last revised on Feb 02, 2005 16:26 EDT
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