While working as a mathematician for the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory, she developed what ultimately became the GPS orbit by programming an IBM “Stretch” computer to deliver pinpoint calculations on a model of Earth.
In a later interview quoted by The Atlanta Voice, West says, “When you’re working every day, you’re not thinking, ‘What impact is this going to have on the world? You’re thinking ‘I’ve got to get this right.”
Her efforts and innovation will not soon be forgotten, as GPS has become part of our daily lives.
West retired from the Military in 1998 but continued her pursuit of knowledge by completing her PhD from Virginia Tech.