A graduate of Earlham College in Richmond has received the nation’s highest civilian honor from President Barack Obama. Margaret Hamilton, who helped create the onboard flight software for NASA’s Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs, was one of 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Hamilton graduated from Earlham in 1958, majoring in mathematics and philosophy. The university says she deferred entry into a doctoral program in abstract mathematics to work on the space program. Hamilton directed the on-board flight software project for the Apollo and Skylab programs, while helping define system software requirements for the Space Shuttle program. She received the award alongside Ellen DeGeneres, Robert DeNiro, Bill and Melinda Gates, Tom Hanks and Michael Jordan, among others. Another computer scientist, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, known as "the first lady of software," received the award posthumously.

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