Engineer of the Week No.66: Dorothy Lilian Pile FRSA, MISI, HonFISMe, HonFSLAET, HonMIM, FIMF, HonFIMet. (26th July 1902 - 1st February 1993)
On her 117th birthday we remember metallurgical engineer, Dorothy Pile.
Born in 1902 in Yorkshire, her father was a noted metallurgist, and Dorothy followed him into this field. She does not seem to have had any post-school education but went straight to work at the Midland Laboratory Guild at the age of 18 as a laboratory assistant and presumably learned on the job.The guild was established in 1918 as a co-operative organization providing testing services for several independent firms making non-ferrous products. She progressed there to become a technical assistant working with the scientist in charge, Mr R. Johnston. When he died in 1944 she became the Assistant Secretary of the Sheet Metal Industries Association. Throughout this time she had gradually become well known in metallurgy due to her research interests in the finishing of fine metalwork and jewelry and research on strain, corrosion cracking and surface defects. This led to her becoming an Associate of the new Institution of Metallurgy in 1947 and in 1949 she was elected at the Birmingham Metallurgical Society’s first female president. She was awarded fellowships in a number of metals institutions and returned the compliment in many cases by donated trophies in her name, for student competitions in the trade. In 1950, Dorothy was the only woman member at the Iron and Steel Institute’s annual dinner and therefore allowed to bring a female guest, which none of the male members were permitted - she brought Dorothy Cridland. In 1948 she moved again, to become the Industrial liaison officer with the Design and Research Centre of the Gold, Silver and jewelry trade, London. In 1983 she became the first female Honorary fellow of the Institution of Metallurgists and was presented with an inscribed silver dish. In 1966 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and took an active role, contributing to discussions about involving younger people in the society.
Having been involved in the Women’s Engineering Society since the 1940s, she became President in 1954 and donated our beautiful President’s Badge in 1964. She was freeman of the City of London and a member of the Goldsmith’s Company, and died in 1993, whilst living in the Goldsmiths’ Company’s almshouses in East Acton.