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ATA Engineering Sorrowfully Announces the Passing of Dr. Mary Baker

It is with a heavy heart that ATA Engineering announces the passing of Dr. Mary Baker, co-founder and chair of ATA

SAN DIEGO, Calif., September 27, 2021 – It is with a heavy heart that ATA Engineering announces the passing of Dr. Mary Baker, an expert in the application of computer methods to structural dynamics and continuum mechanics. She was 77.

Dr. Baker brought over four decades of engineering excellence and leadership to ATA. She held numerous roles within the organization—most recently as board chair and technical director—after co-founding ATA in April 2000.

“Mary had the rare combination of technical acumen and a deep understanding of people,” ATA President Josh Davis said. “She envisioned an organization that focuses equally on career development, customer satisfaction, and technical innovation.”

Dr. Baker began her career in aerospace with Structural Dynamics Research Corporation, ATA’s predecessor, in 1977. There, she served as Vice President and General Manager of the Advanced Test and Analysis division. She guided this group for most of its 24-year history before co-founding ATA Engineering, an employee-owned company, with colleagues from SDRC.

Her direction helped transform ATA into a leader in the design, testing, and analysis of aerospace systems. At ATA, Dr. Baker’s contributions to the aerospace industry included support to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Curiosity rover that landed on Mars nearly a decade ago. Through her leadership and support on that effort, ATA was recognized with NASA’s 2012 George M. Low award. Dr. Baker also made significant contributions to the development of rocket engines and to the design of the International Space Station.

“Mary was an inspirational and personable leader whose mentorship touched every facet of ATA,” General Manager Tom Deiters said. “It was common to see Mary teaching co-ops and interns how to build and understand structural dynamic models, and her contributions to the aerospace field extended well beyond our organization.”

Dr. Baker was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering and was Chair of the External Advisory Board for Mechanical and Civil Engineering at Caltech, where she obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics. She received the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014. In addition, Dr. Baker advised the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and the Department of Engineering Physics at her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Dr. Baker is survived by her husband and two children. She will be dearly missed by her ATA family and the countless people she mentored and inspired throughout her career.

View a photo collage of Dr. Baker’s professional accomplishments here.