Computer scientist Margaret Hamilton to be awarded an honorary doctoral degree by the UPC

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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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Portrait of Margaret Hamilton by Daphne Weld Nichols (1995)

On Thursday 18 October, the UPC will award 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 08, 2018

The honoris causa award to the scientist, mathematician and systems engineer Margaret Hamilton by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) will take place next Thursday 18 October at 11.30 a.m. in the auditorium of the Vèrtex building (Plaça Eusebi Güell, 6, Barcelona), and in live on UPCtv. The academic ceremony will be chaired by the rector, Francesc Torres, and attended by the professor Núria Castell, who will act as the sponsor and deliver 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.

Barcelona Grad Cohort Workshop
On 18 and 19 October, coinciding with the award ceremony, the UPC will host 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.

#mésDonesUPC campaign
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, including female researchers who lead research projects, professors who are noted for an innovative teaching activity, professionals who drive innovative projects in university management, students who participate in outstanding projects and alumni who have excelled in their professional field.

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.

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