Investiture of scientist Margaret Hamilton as an honorary doctor of the UPC

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Investiture of Margaret Hamilton, the systems engineer who led the development of on-board flight software for the Apollo Space Program

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Known as ‘the engineer who took us to the Moon’, Margaret Hamilton stands next to listings of the software for the Apollo 13 mission (1969)

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Acceptation speech of Margaret Hamilton

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Oration for Margaret H.Hamilton, by the sponsor Núria Castell Ariño

Barcelona Grad Cohort Workshop

On 18 and 19 October, coinciding with the award ceremony, the UPC hosted the first edition of the Barcelona Grad Cohort Workshop (BGCW). The BGCW was set up with the aims of initiating a series of annual meetings of female computer science graduates, to contribute to making women visible in this field, creating a space in which women with common interests can network, offering participants the range of career prospects that exist in the field and promoting professional development.

The Workshop is directed at master’s and doctoral degree students in computer engineering and is organised by the FIB and the Dones-COEINF Gender Committee of the Official College of Informatics Engineering of Catalonia.

The UPC has awarded, on Thursday 18 October, an honorary doctoral degree to the American computer scientist, mathematician and engineer Margaret Hamilton, who coined the term ‘software engineering’ 50 years ago, during the NASA’s first Apollo missions. The nomination was approved by the Governing Council and promoted by the Barcelona School of Informatics (FIB), as part of the School’s 40th anniversary celebrations. The event coincides with the first Barcelona Grad Cohort Workshop.

Oct 18, 2018

The honoris causa award to the scientist, mathematician and systems engineer Margaret Hamilton by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) took place at 11.30 a.m. on 18 October in the Vèrtex building (Plaça Eusebi Güell, 6, Barcelona). The academic ceremony was chaired by the rector, Francesc Torres, and was attended by the professor Núria Castell, who acted as the sponsor and delivered the oration on Margaret Hamilton.

Margaret Hamilton (Indiana, United States) was the director of the Software Engineering Division of the Instrumentation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, where she led the development of on-board flight software for the Apollo Space Program. Thanks to the principles of design that she applied, the problems in the flight computer that the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission encountered at the time of the landing were solved and allowed humankind to reach the Moon.

Hamilton was also a founder and executive director at Hamilton Technologies, Inc. (1986) in Cambridge, the company that developed the Universal Systems Language and the mathematical theory on which it is based—development before the fact (DBTF)—for software design systems. On 22 November 2016, Hamilton received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US president Barack Obama, for the development of the Apollo mission software.

This honorary doctorate seeks to acknowledge the pioneer who coined the term ‘software engineering’ 50 years ago, during the first Apollo missions. Hamilton brought prestige to software development, placing it at the same level as software design or hardware engineering. The concepts, models and techniques that she developed were the basis for ultra-reliable software design. Hamilton’s contributions have not only been key in the field of computing but also in the world of aeronautics.

It also wishes to lay tribute to a woman who worked in an overwhelmingly male environment and who promoted the presence of women in computer science. The nomination was made by  the FIB and is supported by the Castelldefels School of Telecommunications and Aerospace Engineering (EETAC), the Terrassa School of Industrial, Aerospace and Audiovisual Engineering (ESEIAAT), the UPC's Department of Service and Information System Engineering and the Department of Computer Science of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.

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Further information:

Every week, from 6 March (coinciding with International Women’s Day on 8 March) onwards, at least one woman linked to the UPC has been given visibility through the institutional Twitter profile @la_UPC. With the hashtag #mésDonesUPC, the campaign has, from the start, been conceived as a countdown to the ceremony awarding the computer scientist, mathematician and systems engineer Margaret Hamilton an honorary doctoral degree of the UPC.