Alice May Anderson [1915 – 2016]
Alice May Anderson grew up in Oakland, CA. She graduated from high school in 1933, during the middle of the Great Depression. As jobs were scarce, she found work as a clerk and waitress after high school, then eventually became a bookkeeper for a dress shop. Alice raised a family as a single mom, never complaining and determined to get ahead. She worked hard to get her education little by little and worked tirelessly over the years to raise funds for scholarships for other young women.
Career Alice’s technical career began during WWII when she served as a drafter for a small electronics firm designing public announcement systems for Navy ships. After the war, when women were encouraged to leave the workplace, she found work at a UC Berkeley laboratory supporting Bikini Atoll atomic bomb field tests. Her last pre-civil service work was at the Lockheed Wind Tunnel. Throughout her career, Alice was determined to advance in her work and took all the math, science, and engineering classes she could through extension courses at UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD. She earned an Associate Degree in Mathematics from Pasadena City College.
Alice served the United States Navy for over 30 years as a human computer, mathematician, and scientist at the Naval Ocean Systems Center (NOSC). She was one of the thousands of personnel, mostly women, known as “computers”. Before electronic computers, she solved complex equations largely by hand in order to perform data reduction and analysis of torpedo tests. Alice led the development and testing of ballistic missile performance while serving as a member of the Vertical Launch ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket) missile task team, earning her the nickname “ASROC Alice.” Alice retired from NOSC in 1986 and worked as a consultant for Systems Analysis & Controls until 1991.
SWE Alice joined SWE at the age of 68 when the SWE San Diego Section was just forming. Alice enjoyed organizing events and chaired several banquets before becoming the 1991 SWE Society Convention Chair. It was one of the last all-volunteer run conventions and was a three-year effort she shared with her co-chair Sharon Cascadden from Orange County. Alice became a SWE Fellow in 1993.
Other Affiliations She volunteered for the American Business Women’s Association. A member since 1969, she served as President and in many other leadership capacities in the Torrey Pines Chapter and was named “Woman of the Year” in 1978 and 1990. She also supported the San Diego Regional Conference for Women, Soroptimist International of San Diego, Starlight Theatre, and Scripps Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, where she was recognized for volunteering over 10,000 hours.
Scholarship The Alice May Anderson Memorial Scholarship was established by her family in 2016. US students in any engineering major in their undergraduate or graduate studies at universities and colleges in California are eligible to apply.
Class: Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Graduate
Major: All Engineering
Renewable: 3 years
U.S. citizenship required. Available to students enrolled in university/college in California.