College of Science sells out 'Hidden Figures' screening


More than 200 College of Science students, staff and faculty members attended a sold out screening of “Hidden Figures,” one of the most talked about movies of 2017 so far.

The Science Diversity Office bought out the 4 p.m. Jan. 15 Wabash Landing 9 showing of the movie that pays tribute to African American women that helped NASA during the 1960s Space Race. These mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers helped put astronauts in space and more respect in their workplace.

The movie was inspiration to many of the undergraduates in attendance. The audience cheered multiple times throughout the film that stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons.

“A lot of the women had to go through so much struggle,” said Puja Mittal, a sophomore in computer science, “We may not have that so much these days but it gives you inspiration to keep going. Despite setbacks you come across, you can still do a lot of great work and make a difference.”

“Hidden Figures” is based on a book of the same name authored by Margot Lee Shetterly, who will speak at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at Purdue University’s Loeb Playhouse.

While the film is set primarily in 1961 and 1962, some math and computing concepts were still familiar to these students in 2017. Mittal knew of Fortran – introduced as a plot point in the film -- as a very early programming language from computer science history. Hannah Jones, an applied statistics sophomore, recognized mathematical concepts covered by Henson’s Katherine G. Johnson, the film’s protagonist.

“That could be me some day doing that math,” she said. “It was awesome to see that math that I learn at Purdue every day.”


College of Science students line up for a photo before a screening of "Hidden Figures" in West Lafayette.

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