Esther H. Williams
Failure analysis pioneer
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, January 29, at Avenidas (the Palo Alto senior center), 450 Bryant St., Palo Alto, for Esther H. Williams
, the first woman inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame.
A resident of Menlo Park since 1973, Mrs. Williams
died of a brain tumor December 11.She
was 86.Mrs. Williams
was a metallurgist for nearly half a century and worked for more than 30 years in the aerospace industry, diagnosing why spacecraft materials fail.
Born in Viola, Oregon, Mrs. Williams
attended Washington State University, and receive her
bachelor of science degree in physical metallurgy from the University of California at Berkeley.Her
career in failure analysis began during World War II at Hunters Point Naval Dry Docks where she
evaluated storm and battle damage on warships returning from the Pacific.
In 1958, after four years with Lockheed Aircraft Company, she
joined Lockheed Missiles and Space, where she was an expert in failure analysis until her
retirement in 1992.
Among projects she
worked on involved the Polaris missile, the Hubble Space Telescope, and various Strategic Defense Initiative projects.One of her
first Lockheed assignments was to direct the failure analysis team for Lockheed Skunk Works.She
was the first person to suggest that titanium replace steel in aircraft and the first to apply material analysis to microelectronic devices.
In 1991, Mrs. Williams
was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame.
, who worked at Lockheed until age 79, is survived by daughter, Denise Gillen of Mountain View ; sons Douglas Holmes of Huntsville, Alabama ; Michael Williams of Boulder, Colorado ; Terry Williams of Redmond, Washington ; sisters Mildred Hull of San Leandro and Evelyn Bush of Palmer, Alaska ; seven grandchildren ; and one great-grandchild.
Donations may be made to the Society of Women Engineers, Santa Clara Valley Section Scholarship Fund (specify that the gift is in memory of Esther Williams
), P.O. Box 61333, Sunnyvale, California, 94088.