Meeting Margaret Hamilton at ICSE 2018

Margaret Hamilton is one of the pioneers of our discipline. Reportedly, she invented the term software engineering and undoubtedly she was one of the first to take this endeavor  extremely seriously. She led the team developing the software for Apollo. With Apollo 11 her software successfully supported Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to land on the moon.

Margaret Hamilton with the navigation software that landed the Apollo 11 mission on the moon

Margaret Hamilton is not only an outstanding software engineer but also an influential speaker and very interesting person. She fought for the recognition of the creation of software as an engineering discipline. She stood up against her superiors when she wanted the software to prevent and correct human errors (what everybody else thought was useless when considering how well trained the astronauts will be that operate the software). She is an icon not only for women in computer science. By popular demand, Lego produced the set "Women of NASA" including a mini figure of Margaret Hamilton.

W.R. Hackler, A. Wortmann, M. Hamilton, and me (left to right) at the International Conference on Software Engineering 2018

I was fortunate enough to attend a keynote by Margaret Hamilton at the International Conference on Software Engineering 2018 in Gothenburg, Sweden. We even had a chat about software development, robots, and some history of the companies she was involved in. She also told me she had a bad sense of orientation and would always get lost in the Pentagon. Finally, I received an autograph:

Shoot for the Moon!

P.S.: On the last day of the travel I was wearing a superman shirt (the logo with the S) and Margaret told me that her company Higher Order Software had produced similar shirts for their employees a long time ago (when none of the movies but only the comic books had existed).