CORVALLIS, Ore. — The play “Ada and the Engine” will have a live reading at Oregon State University’s Valley Library at 7 p.m., Jan. 31. The play, by Lauren Gunderson, is about English mathematician Ada Byron Lovelace (1815-1852), who invented an early form of a mechanical computer.

The reading will be held in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center Reading Room on the Valley Library’s fifth floor. This event is free and open to the public.

“Hers is an amazing story for me personally to tell because of the convergence of art and science that swirls around her history,” said playwright Gunderson. “Her father was the great poet Lord Byron, her mother was a mathematician; the company she kept included the greatest minds in England. She was a visionary, a rebel, a feminist before feminism, and a woman of passion and skill.”

“The story of Ada Lovelace’s contribution to the development of computers is critical today, especially for the field of computer science where only 18 percent of computer science program graduates in the U.S. are women and only 26 percent of jobs in computer science and mathematics are held by women,” said Kryn Freehling-Burton, one of the play's readers and a senior instructor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at OSU. “Girls and women are more likely to enter and persevere in science, technology, engineering, and math when we see scientists who look like us. We hope the play inspires us to recover and celebrate stories like these and advocate for women in computer science in our community.”

This reading continues a series of play readings about women of science written by women dramatists. Last year’s readings included Gunderson’s “Silent Sky” about Henrietta Leavitt and the Harvard Observatory, Anna Ziegler’s “Photograph 51” about Rosalind Franklin and the double helix of DNA, and Siobhán Nicholas’ “Stella: A Story of Women, Their Men and Astronomy” about astronomer Caroline Herschel. These readings are made possible by OSU Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; OSU Libraries; and the Office of Student Affairs.

Story By: 

Daniel Moret, [email protected]


Larry Landis, 541-737-0540; [email protected]

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.