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Hall of Fame Flashback: Donna Shirley 1997

WITI News Staff

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With more than 40 years of experience in the engineering of aerospace and civil systems; instruction at the University of Oklahoma as an assistant dean; and management over the Mars Exploration Program, Donna retired in 2003 to develop her company, Managing Creativity. As the president of Managing Creativity, Donna offers her advice through speaking, consulting, and training on the management of creative teams.

In 1998, Donna retired as the manager of the Mars Exploration Program after a 32-year career with NASA in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She was the first woman to manage flight hardware at the JPL in Pasadena, California; the first woman to manage a spaceflight program; the first woman to manage a NASA program; and the first woman engineer at the JPL.

On July 4, 1997, the entire world watched as the Mars Pathfinder and the Sojourner Rover successfully landed on Mars. Donna led the Sojourner Truth team, the first team of any planetary rover. This robotics team developed a revolutionary robot that landed on Mars aboard the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder Mission was the United States' first attempt at landing on Mars in 20 years, and Sojourner was the world's first robotic planetary rover, proving rovers could work on Mars. Read more about her on WITI.


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