Yvonne Brill

Pioneering rocket scientist

"I tell them that I'm an aerospace engineer and my specialty is spacecraft-propulsion systems," Yvonne Brill once said. "And they always look shocked." Over a career that spanned six decades, Brill, who died March 27 at 88, shocked many. Barred from studying engineering at the University of Manitoba because of her gender, she pursued mathematics and chemistry and graduated at the top of her class. In the late 1940s, Brill was one of the few women working on rockets when she earned a master's in chemistry. She worked part time for eight years while starting a family. Then, in 1967, Brill...

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