Most of the women featured on Introductions Necessary are over sixty; but it’s important to remember that many of them made their earliest contributions in STEM earlier in their careers. Today, we’re featuring a woman who is making great contributions now and whose name we expect will be remembered in future.
When Christy Edwards-Stewart was in the fifth grade, she watched an IMAX movie on the space shuttle. Sitting in the theater, feeling the roar of the rocket engines and imagining how it felt for the astronauts on that flight, she decided that she wanted to be a space explorer. To get started, Edwards-Stewart earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While at MIT, she worked at the MIT Space Systems Laboratory, where she developed and tested GNC – guidance, navigation, and control – software on a miniature satellite project and started a research project to use mini satellites to inspect larger spacecraft for damage.
From there, Edwards-Stewart became an engineer at Lockheed Martin, where she started by working on GNC simulations and began leading teams of engineers. She has contributed technically and in a leadership role on several space projects, including Mars Odyssey, GRAIL microsatellites, and the Pathfinder project, where she led use of model-based systems engineering and virtual reality environments to improve the approach to engineering.
In 2014, Edwards-Stewart was featured in Aviation Week as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in the aerospace industry. She continues to explore the solar system and in 2011, became a Solar System Ambassador for JPL, providing education and outreach on space science and technology – a role that she continues in today. Currently, Edwards-Stewart is a lead systems engineer working on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), designed to explore Mars from orbit in preparation for an eventual manned space flight.
Suggested by: Marleen Sundgaard.
Written by Nicole Hutchison