Did you know that Winifred Asprey was born today in 1917? She was a mathematician, professor, and pioneer in computer science. In the 1940’s, very few women earned higher level university degrees in mathematics. Winifred Aspery was one of only 200 women in the United States to earn a PhD in mathematics. One of her university students asked what they could do after graduating, other than teaching math or becoming a statistician. Winifred Asprey knew Grace Hopper, and after investigating, became convinced that computing would be an essential part of education. She worked to create the first Computer Science Department at Vassar College to give students the opportunity to study this new technology.
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Winifred Asprey spent a year at the IBM research center, attended professional conferences, and studied anything she could find about computing and computer architecture. After she returned to Vassar College and created the Computer Science Department, she invited many of those she had met to teach at Vassar College.
Winifred Asprey taught mathematics and computer science for 38 years.
Winifred Asprey created the first Computer Department at Vassar. She also secured funds for the first computer, an IBM System/360. Vassar College was the second college in the United States to acquire such a powerful computer.
In 1989 the computer center at Vassar College was renamed the Asprey Advanced Computation Laboratory.