2018 Book Selection - "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly

The incoming School of Engineering and Applied Science first-year students and UVA Engineering faculty come together in small groups at the start of every year for the Common Reading Experience (CRE) to enjoy a lively discussion about a book selected by the CRE committee. Through the CRE, you will meet your fellow first-year students and will share professional and personal views and experiences, and discuss engineering careers and their connections and impacts to everyday life in the context of the selected reading.


This year the CRE committee has selected “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterley.   While you may have seen the movie, the book is an interesting read and tells a very powerful history that few of us know about the Black mathematician women who worked for NASA beginning in the 1950s.

The book was number one on The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers list for six weeks in 2017 and received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction also in 2017.

Please come prepared to discuss the book with other incoming students and a SEAS faculty member on Monday, August 27 — part of your Wahoo Welcome activities.   Details on your discussion time, location, and leader will be provided later this summer.

Please send your suggestions for future CRE selections to Professor Elizabeth Opila.

We selected the following books for the CRE in recent years:

  • 2017 Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • 2016 Leaving Orbit by Margaret Lazarus Dean
  • 2015 Spare Parts by Joshua Davis
  • 2014 Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring and the Race to Revive America
  • 2013 The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
  • 2012 To Engineer is Human by Henry Petroski
  • 2011 Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
  • 2010 The Viking in the Wheat Field: a Scientist's Struggle to Preserve the World's Harvest by Susan Dworkin
  • 2009 The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • 2008 America 1908 by Jim Rasenbergerto
  • 2007 Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
  • 2006 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • 2005 The Rocket Boys by Homer Hickham, Jr.
  • 2004 The Human Factor: Revolutionizing the Way People Live With Technology by Kim Vicente
  • 2003 Hacker Cracker: A Journey from the Mean Streets of Brooklyn to the Frontiers of Cyberspace by Ejovi Nuwere
  • 2002 Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  • 2001 Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin
  • 2000 Managing Martians by Donna Shirley
  • 1999 Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder
  • 1998 Airframe by Michael Crichton
  • 1997 A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
  • 1996 Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder
  • 1995 A Scientist in the City by James Trefil
  • 1994 The Control of Nature by John McPhee
  • 1993 The Final Forrest by William Dietrich and The Tragedy of the Commons by Garrett Hardin

Prior to the Engineering School CRE, the University selected the following books for faculty-student discussions:

  • 1990 Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  • 1989 All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren
  • 1988 Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody