Yvonne Brill's high school principal encouraged her to become a teacher, her parents remained neutral, and her physics teacher believed that, as a woman, she would not become anything at all. Nevertheless, Brill pushed to receive a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Manitoba in 1945, and a Master of Science in Physical Chemistry in 1951 from the University of Southern California. Since then, Brill has received numerous honors and awards and is known internationally for her work on rocket and jet propulsion systems.
Brill began her career as a mathematician at Douglas Aircraft Company but switched careers in 1946 when she became a research analyst on rocket propellant systems project for RAND Corporation. Since that time, Brill has held numerous positions as an engineer or manager at Marquardt Corporation, United Aircraft Corporation, Curtiss Wright, FMC Corporation, RCA Astro-Electronics, NASA, and the International Maritime Satellite Organization. Since 1991 she has been an aerospace consultant for such clients as Telespace, Ltd. in Norway and has served on the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel and numerous U.S. National Research Council Study Committees.
A member of the Society of Women Engineers since 1975, Brill is a past president of the New Jersey Section, chaired numerous national committees, served as the counselor for two collegiate sections, and has served on the National Executive Committee as both Treasurer and Director of Student Affairs. She is a Fellow of SWE and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and is a member of National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics. Among the many honors and awards Brill has received are the SWE Achievement Award, the SWE Resnik Challenger Medal, the NASA Public Service Medal, and the IEEE Judith A. Resnik Award.
View video clips from Yvonne Brill's oral history interview.
Read the transcript from Yvonne Brill's oral history interview.