After accruing more than 40 years of practiced experience in the aerospace industry, Christine Mann Darden, DSc, retired in 2007 after having held a plethora of roles from data analyst to director of the Office of Strategic Communications and Education at the NASA Langley Research Center. During her years at NASA, she was selected as a member of the Federal Executive Service and served as director of the Aero-Performing Center Management Office.
After her work as a data analyst in her early career, Dr. Darden worked as an aerospace engineer, a group leader of the sonic-boom minimization group, and a project manager and lead for the high-speed research IIA planning activities in the late 1990s. Before her tenure with NASA, she honed her expertise in the field as a research assistant in aerosol physics and a mathematics instructor for Virginia State College, as well as a mathematics teacher at Norcom and Russell High Schools in Virginia. Additionally, at NASA, Dr. Darden led and conducted research in the field of sonic-boom prediction and minimization, supersonic wind design and subsonic flap design.
Prior to embarking upon her professional path, Dr. Darden earned a Bachelor of Science from Hampton Institute in 1962, a Master of Science from Virginia State University in 1967 and a DSc from the George Washington University in 1983. In order to stay abreast of changes in the field, she has been actively affiliated with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for many years. Dedicated to youth and her community, Dr. Darden has in recent years served as a board member of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
With a vast breadth of knowledge at her disposal, Dr. Darden has provided her wealth of knowledge in refereed and 23 non-refereed, technical reports including “Design and Analysis of Low Boom Concepts at Langley Research Center,” “Limitations on Wind-Tunnel Pressure Signature Extrapolation” and “Elements of NASA’s High-Speed Research Program.” In recognition of her stellar work, she has been honored many times, accepting the Black Engineer of the Year Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government in 1988, presented by Mobile Oil Corp., the Council of Engineering Deans of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Career Communications (publishers of Black Engineer Magazine). In 1994, she was awarded the NASA Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Leading and Contributing to the Center’s Sonic Boom Minimization Program, and, in 2017, she was inducted into the George Washington University Engineering Hall of Fame. Dr. Darden also recently received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, and a feature in the first edition of Who’s Who in Science and Engineering.
Looking toward the future, Dr. Darden intends to enjoy her retirement. She plans to continue traveling the country, and speaking to students in school and young professionals on how to set goals for what they really enjoy doing. She teaches others how to set that goal, such as creating a path to get to achieve something. Dr. Darden has done most of her speaking to the students and young professionals at big technical organizations. What separates her is her willingness to spend time working hard and trying to work at improving herself. She would like to be remembered as someone who did her work and always tried to treat people fairly.