Engineer of the Week No.50: Alice Tredwell (nee Pickering) (5th January 1823 - 14th June 1867)
On the 152nd anniversary of her untimely death, today we remember railway contractor, Alice Tredwell.
Alice Tredwell was another one of our ‘Engineers-by-marriage’. Born into a family of building contractors, as her father John Pickering and all his sons were in the railway contracting business in Cumberland. The family were quite prosperous as they had servants, but they lived at Beck Brow in rural Cumberland, to the southwest of Carlisle, so Alice was probably educated at home. Her father died when she was eighteen and from the time she was married at the age of 21, in 1846, her mother and various of her brothers and their families lived with her. The man she married, Solomon Tredwell, was a self-made man from relatively humble beginnings but who was a very successful engineer, who worked with both Isambard Brunel and Robert Stephenson, working as a railway contractor. After their marriage the Tredwells leased Highfield Hall, a large country house in Leek, Staffordshire, owned by silk manufacturers and now demolished. Alice’s daughter, also Alice, was born there in 1849. Solomon Tredwell, with his company Tredwell & Co did construction work for many railways in the Midlands and North of England and in 1859 took on the contract to build the Bhore Ghat line for the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, after another contractor had failed.Solomon and Alice sailed to India, arriving in Bombay (now Mumbai) on 16th November. The Ghats were a series of steep escarpments, with a rise in height of over 1800 feet in a length of 15 miles, which were difficult for the railway builders, calling for25 tunnels and 8 viaducts. Some 25,000 workers were employed and were exposed to cholera epidemics in 1859-60 which claimed about a third of the workforce.
Engineer of the Week No. 49: Cleone de Hevingham Benest [Miss Clayton Griff] (1880-1963)
Cleone, motorist, engineer and metallurgist, was born on 13th June 1880 in Forest Gate, London E7 to George Philip Benest and Edith Maria Powell. Almost immediately her mother took her to live with her parents Thomas and Eliza Powell at St Aubin, Jersey, and Cleone's father, a landowner, seems not to have been part of the family from then on.
By 1891 she, her mother and maternal grandparents were living in Ryde, Isle of Wight and by her early twenties she was already well-known as a pioneering early female motorist with her own vehicles. She had a home workshop equipped with a Drummond lathe and other essentials enabling her to care for her own cars and even build a small steam engine. In addtion to the 1906 12HP Lanchester tonneauand a 12 HP Fiat of her own, she also persuaded the short-lived Isle of Wight Express Motor Syndicate Ltd to let her drive their Milnes-Daimler and Thornycroft buses in Ryde, an achievement which gained her a photo in the Illustrated London News.
Engineers of the Week No.48: The Weinling Women
Anne, Matilda, Elizabeth and Eugenie Weinling – the first women at the Royal Balloon Factory
In the 19th century it became apparent to the authorities that there were military applications for the use of hot air balloons, especially for spying and reconnaissance.The Army School of Ballooning, first established 1878/9, by 1905 had become a balloon factory on the site that would become the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough.
If it took ‘guts’ to go up in the first military hydrogen-filled balloons, it took many actual guts to even make the balloons - ox guts. When balloonists started to use hydrogen gas as the lifting agent, instead of heated air, they sought a material that would be impermeable to the hydrogen’s tiny molecules. No such a fabric became available until the 1920s.In the meantime the solution was a product known as ‘Goldbeaters’ Skin’. Although this was, as the name shows, a long-known product, its use for hydrogen balloons was a secret known only by the people who made the balloons for Mr Herron, the Weinling family.
Engineering Woman of the Week No. 47: Elmina T. Wilson BSCE (29th September 1870 - 2nd June 1918)
Today we remember structural engineer, Elmina Wilson, on the 101st anniversary of her untimely death.
Elmina Wilson was born in Iowa in 1870 and was the first woman in America to graduate, with a four-year degree in civil engineering, from Iowa State University in 1892. Amazingly, her sister Alda graduated at the same time from the three-year degree in the same subject. Whilst Alda went in the architectural field, Elmina became a civil and structural engineer, her first job being as an assistant in the school's drawing offices. She was promoted to be an instruction 1893 and in 1895,collaborated on a project with Professor Anson Marston, on the design of the first elevated steel water tower to be constructed west of the Mississippi, now known as the Marston Water Tower, and completed in 1897. After a sabbatical year to study engineering practices in Europe, she got a job with James E. Brooks Company, where her first work was on the Essex Structural Steel Works in Bloomfield, New Jersey. In 1907 Elmina joined the prestigious engineering firm of Purdy and Henderson, skyscraper design pioneers, where she began work on the New York Flatiron Building and later the Met Life Tower. The two sisters also worked together on some architectural designs, including the Helmich House, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Elmina also wrote publications for the U.S. Department of Agriculture including a brochure entitled Modern Conveniences for the Farm Home, which included topics such as piping water pumped by a windmill throughout rural homes or adding bathtubs serviced by water pumped from elevated tanks in an attic or pneumatic cylinders installed in basements.
Although she died quite young (48), at an age when she might have been considered to be at the beginning of more important work, she is considered to be the “First lady of American structural engineering”.
Engineer of the Week No.46: Hilda Margaret Lyon MA., MSc., AFRAeS. (31st May 1896- 2nd December 1946)
Hilda Margaret Lyon was born in Market Weighton in 1896, into a family of farmers and grocers. She had 4 older siblings but, out of the whole family, she seems to have been the only one to have travelled and lived out of the area. Educated at Beverley High School, Hilda went on to graduate with a mathematics degree from Newnham College, Cambridge in 1918. Her first job was as a technical assistant at Siddeley Deasy Motor company in Coventry, but in 1920 she moved into her first aeronautical post, At George Parnall & Co, an aircraft manufacturer. In 1922 she became an associate fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and in 1925 joined the Royal Airship Works in Cardington. This started a fruitful period of research for Hilda and the Aeronautical Journal published her very important paper on the strength of transverse frames of rigid airships in 1930, for which she was the first woman to be awarded the R38 Memorial Prize by the Royal Aeronautical Society. The same year she went to do 2 years of postgraduate study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a Mary Ewart Travelling Scholarship. This gave her her first access to wind tunnels and she submitted her thesis on "The Effect of Turbulence on the Drag of Airship Models" to obtain her MA from MIT in 1932. That work took her next to Göttingen in Germany, where she conducted aerodynamics research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft für Strömungsforschung with Ludwig Prandtl. However, this was cut short when her mother was taken ill and Hilda was forced to return home to care for her in Yorkshire.
Engineer of the Week No.45: Anne (Annie) Gillespie Shaw (Pirie)CBE, MACEng FIProdE HonF UMIST (28th May 1904 – 1982)
Today we remember production and efficiency engineer Anne Shaw on her 115th birthday.
Anne Gillespie Shaw was born in Uddingston, Scotland. Her father, Major David Perston Shaw, having been in the wine merchant business, served in the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and died June 1915, her mother was Helen Brown Shaw, MP for the Unionist Party (Conservatives) for Bothwell, Scotland 1931-35. She was educated at Laurel bank School, Glasgow and St Leonards School, St Andrews. After graduating from Edinburgh Anne Shaw gained a postgraduate certificate in social economy at Bryn Mawr University, where Dr Lillian Gilbreth, the time and motion expert, was a lecturer. Shaw worked for Gilbreth Management Consultants, doing commercial research studies and the two were lifelong friends and colleagues.
In 1930 Shaw returned to the UK, where she became a personnel officer for Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company in Manchester, and was later (1933) chief supervisor of women workers.She proved to management that a recently-reviewed process could be 150 per cent more efficiently done. From 1930 to 1945 she was the firm’s first and chief motion-study investigator, and as consultant to the entire Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) group, of which Metropolitan-Vickers was a part, she organized motion study courses. In 1935 Shaw joined the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and helped the Electrical Association for Women (EAW) produce an experimental film demonstrating the application of motion study to food preparation in the home. Also in 1935 she gained a private pilot’s licence.During the Second World War the government requested that her motion study courses for AEIbe given to the rest of the munitions industry. In 1942 Stafford Cripps, Minister of Aircraft Production, recruited Shaw onto his Production Efficiency Board, to advise on work methods in the aircraft industry.In 1945 she organized a national exhibition to demonstrate that her motion study methods applied to all industries. Benches of women demonstrated optimal motions for common industrial processes.
Engineer of the Week No.44: Mrs. Mabel Lucy Matthews (nee Hanlon) AIEE (1879- c.1970)
Today we remember electrical and production engineer, Mabel Matthews, on her 140th birthday.
Mabel Hanlon was born into very humble beginnings, the second daughter of a retired soldier, raised largely in rural Yorkshire and Cheshire. Her father’s Chelsea Pensioner status apparently later secured him jobs as gatekeeper in government departments in Whitehall. In 1901 she married Richard Matthews who was listed in the church records as a ‘gent’. They were living in Barrow-in Furness in 1901 and he was listed as a company secretary, but in 1909 he died and she never remarried, mainly living with her parents and sister. By the 1911 census she was doing clerical work for a paper makers’ engineers, presumably somewhere in London as she was living with her parents in the gatekeeper’s flat at Burlington House, Piccadilly where her father then worked.
Engineer of the Week No.43: Lillian Evelyn Moller Gilbreth (24thMay 1878 – 2nd January 1972)
Today, on her 141st birthday, we remember Lillian Gilbreth, “America’s first lady of engineering”, industrial efficiency expert.
Lillian Gilbreth had no engineering education but, like her British protege Anne Shaw, Lilian’s background in psychology led her into industrial and engineering worlds where she became renowned as an expert in improving efficiency.
Lillian Moller was born in Oakland, California to parents of German origins, her father being a builders’ supply merchant. After a period of home education, she excelled at theOakland High School and went on to gain a BA and then an MA in English Literature from the University of California. In 1904 she married Frank Bunker Gilbreth and resumed an interest from her college days, in psychology, eventuallycompleting her doctoral thesis onThe Function of the Mind in Determining, Teaching and Installing Methods of Least Waste. She and her husband shared interests scientific management principles and pioneered many industrial management techniques. Her husband concentrated on the technical aspects of worker efficiency, but Lillian was interested in the human behaviour in the workplace. She meticulously investigated the best heights for both domestic and industrial worksurfaces for men and for women.
Gilbreth and her husband were equal partners in their engineering and management consulting firm of Gilbreth, Incorporated. After her husband died in 1924 she was left with 11 children to raise, and continued to lead the company for decades after his death in 1924, although she struggled to retain former clients who did not trust her without her husband.
Engineer of the Week No. 41: Alice Christine Stickland BSc, PhD (16 March 1906- 16 April 1987)
Today, on the 22nd anniversary of her death we remember Christine Stickland, radio, radar and astrophysics engineer.
Christine Stickland was an applied mathematician with interests in radio, the development of radar and electromagnetic radiations. Born in Camberwell, her father was a publisher’s clerk so it is not clear where she found her inspiration to take up maths, physics and technical subjects. She may well have not considered herself to have been an engineer, but the range of work she undertook included a lot of practical applied physics, which is so close to engineering as to make no difference.
Like many women of her era, her 1927 mathematics degree, from King’s College London led her into the scientific civil service where she was initially one of those who checked calculations, later progressing to being a research assistant. In the pre-war period she was at an Assistant Grade II in Dept of Scientific and Industrial Research, at the Radio Research Station (RRS) at Ditton Park, and worked with some of the best known names of that time: she assisted radar pioneer, R. A. Watson-Watt, on long-wave propagation, R. L. Smith-Rose on short-wave propagation, and E. A. (later Sir Edward) Appleton on the properties of the ionosphere. Whilst still working at the RRS she studied privately for an MSc in 1929 and then a PhD on ‘The Propagation of the Magnetic Field of the Electron Magnetic Wave along the Ground and in the Lower Atmosphere’ in 1943. In 1940 she and her co-author, JS Petrie, won the IEE Wireless Section Premium for their paper on ‘Reflection curves and propagation characteristics of radio waves along the earth’s surface’. She was a prolific writer of papers and books.
Dr Stickland was elected a Fellow of the Physical Society in1942, and from 1947 to 1960, she served as the Secretary and Editor of the Physical Society, then becomingthe Editor and Deputy Secretary of the (combined) Institute of Physics and Physical Society.
After her ‘retirement’ in 1968 she continued to do editorial work, including as the Managing (General) Editor of the Annals of the International Years of the Quiet Sun (1964-65), working with very distinguished scientists, then going on to work with the International Council for Science’s Committee on Space Research (COSPAR).
In her private life she was a great supporter of the Girl Guides’ Association, and is believed to have been a Commissioner. She was remembered by colleagues for her gentle personality, but firmness of mind and conscientious efficiency.
Engineer of the Week No.40. Elizabeth M. Kennedy (circa 1875/77- 1958)
Today we remember Elizabeth Kennedy, machine tools expert and WES President.
Elizabeth Kennedy never described herself as an engineer but nevertheless spent her entire working life in engineering. Nothing is known of her background or upbringing. The teenager who had wanted to be a journalist, became a recognised expert in the types and qualities of machine tools for both wood and metalworking, having joined J.B. Stone & Co in 1904. Starting in a secretarial role, she rose to become the company’s managing director and remained with them for 30 years. She was adamant that, as it took years to make a competent engineer, she could not claim to be able to operate any of the machine tools about which she knew so much. She became a recognised expert in American machine tools and visited that country frequently during the period up to her retirement to learn more. In 1933 her paper“An analysis of the cost of electrical supply and distribution in Great Britain”, to the Institution of Electrical Engineers won its Premium for that year. During World War 2 this knowledge was put to use in the national war effort. She joined the Society in 1925 and was immediately active, going straight onto the council and becoming its President in 1933, when she used her presidential address to claim that she “was not a feminist” despite believing that women’s abilities and skills should be sufficient for their worth to be recognised and that women engineers were not taking men’s work. She retired from Stones in 1934, and died in 1958.
Engineer of the Week No. 39: Kathleen Hylda Valerie Booth (nee Britten),BSc PhD (9th July 1922-)
Today we remember Kathleen Booth, mathematician engineer, pioneer computer designer, and author.
Kathleen Booth was a computing pioneer, who helped with the crystallography analysis that contributed to the DNA structure, was a co-designer of one of the first 3 operational computers in the world, and author of 2 of the earliest books on computer design and programming.
Raised in the English Midlands, where her father was an inspector of taxes, she went to Royal Holloway College in the midst of the 2nd World War, and gained a BSc in maths. As with so many women maths graduates, her first job was as a junior scientific officer at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. Her work there in the Structures Department resulted in a report on the structural performance of a wood-metal composite, Dural-celluboard, which presumably was being considered for airframe construction purposes.
Engineer of the Week No. 38: Delia Ann Derbyshire (5 May 1937-3 July 2001)
Today we remember Delia Derbyshire, electronic music pioneer, on her 82nd birthday.
Delia Derbyshire is best known for her work with the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and creating the famous Dr Who theme music. Although not, strictly speaking an engineer, Delia spent most of her working life in a highly technical line of work, making innovative use of the emerging electronics of the period. Born into a working class family in Coventry, Delia was exceptionally bright, especially at maths, and won a scholarship to study maths at Girton College Cambridge – an outstanding achievement for a girl from such a humble background. She graduated with a degree in maths and music in 1959, having also had some courses in electronics. The commercial recording studios of the period refused her applications because she was a girl but in 1960, she joined the BBC as a trainee assistant studio manager and two years later had persuaded the BBC to send her to the Radiophonics Workshop, where she was immersed in the electronic equipment from which her musical talents coaxed the music for which she is famous. She worked on an enormous number of other compositions but the BBC in those days did not credit such work and it would be 50 years before an onscreen credit of her Dr Who music was permitted. She collaborated with Brian Hodgson and others in establishing freelance electronic studios but in 1975 left the field and composed little music in the rest of her life, as she moved between a variety of jobs. Sadly her life ended somewhat chaotically due to alcoholism but is widely remembered and was honoured with a posthumous honorary doctorate from Coventry University and also a blue plaque in the same town of her birth.
Engineer of the Week No. 37 Theresa Elizabeth Wallach (30 April 1909 - 30 April 1999)
On her 110th birthday we remember Theresa Wallach, engineer, motorcycle racer, adventurer and author.
Theresa Wallach was a woman engineer who not only was a pioneer in the sense of being one of those who took up such work when it was rare for a woman but also in her adventurous expeditions in Africa and America, which would have been just as pioneering for any man at the time. Born in 1909 into a middle class family in the south of England, her German-born father was initially a stockbroker and then a gentleman-farmer. Apparently enamoured of motorbikes from a very early age, Theresa was too young to get her start in engineering during the First World War but at the age of 20 was working for British Thomson-Houston, the engineering and heavy industrial company, which was at that point part of the Vickers empire. She seems to have been an apprentice as she was also taking courses at the Northampton Polytechnic. In 1932 she went to join Kathleen Cook’s Hercules Engineering Company in Isleworth. In 1935 she and Florence Blenkiron set off on their headline-grabbing 8-month trip from London, via the Sahara desert, to Cape Town by motorbike.
Engineer of the Week No36: Mary (Molly) Isolen Fergusson OBE, BSc, DSc, MICE, MConsE.(28th April 1914 - 30th November 1997)
Today we remember Scotland’s first woman to become a career civil engineer, Molly Fergusson, on her 105th birthday.
Molly Fergusson was the eldest daughter of a Scottish medical father whose own fascination with invention surrounded her childhood, as he made a lot of his own equipment for his research in the early days of radiography. She attended York College for Girls, a small independent church school where she became head girl and was encouraged in her interest in engineering. She graduated with a BSc Hons in Civil Engineering from the University of Edinburgh in 1936, and remained living in Edinburgh for the rest of her working life.
Engineer of the Week No.35: Miss Mary Evelyn ‘Evi’ Roxburgh (10th October 1896 - 24th April 1973)
Today we remember Evelyn Roxburgh, on the 46th anniversary of her death. Scotswoman Evelyn Roxburgh is thought to have been the first woman to qualify as an electrical engineer in Scotland. Born in Edinburgh in 1896 into a family of lawyers, she gained her Diploma in Electrical Engineering, from Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh, in 1923, when the only other women studying engineering in Scotland seem to have been doing civil engineering. She then got a job in the electrical switchgear department of Metropolitan Vickers, presumably in Birmingham. Metro-Vicks as it was known, was one of the biggest engineering companies in the country and also the foremost employer of women engineers in the interwar period when such work was extremely difficult to find for women, regardless of their experience or qualifications.
Engineer of the Week No.34: Margaret Mary Partridge BSc, MIEE (18th April 1891 - 27th October 1967)
On her 128th birthday we remember Margaret Partridge, electrical power supply pioneer and campaigner for women’s right to work at night.
Margaret Partridge was born in Nymet Rowland, Devon in 1891 to John Leonard James Partridge (1859–1922), a landowner of independent means, and Eleanor Parkhouse Joyce (1858–1926). The family moved to Bedford where Margaret attended the High School, and went on to Bedford College, London, on two scholarships. She graduated with a BSc Honours in maths in 1914.
Her first job was as assistant mistress at Saltburn High School but soon moved to be an assistant to an eminent heating engineer, Arthur Henry Barker, in London.
Engineer of the Week No.33: Laura Annie Willson (nee Buckley)MBE (15th August 1877-17th April 1942)
Today we remember Laura Willson, trades union activist, engineer and housebuilder, on the 77th anniversary of her death. She was also a Founder of the Women's Engineering Society.
Laura Annie Willson was a Yorkshirewoman to her boots and lived and worked in Halifax most of her life. Born in 1877 to a working class labourer, Charles Buckley, she and her sisters were all sent to work half-time in the textile mills from the age of 10, only getting a very basic education in the afternoons, as was normal for poor families then. At the age of 22, a worsted weaver, she married George Henry Willson who was a machine tool maker. Together they established, Smith, Barker and Willson,a successful engineering works in Halifax and she would become one of its directors. She was a member of the Women’s Labour League and the Women’s Social and Political Union and in 1907 was arrested twice and imprisoned for her partin a weavers’ strike on a charge of ‘violent and inflammatory speech’. During the Great War the family’s company works expanded and she organised all the women munitions workers they had to take on, including setting up a canteen when she realised how many of them were malnourished. She was one of the first women to receive an MBE, in 1917, for her war work. In the 1920s she became interested in the application of industrial efficiency ideas to housebuilding for ordinary workers, and in 1925 became the first woman member of the Federation of House Builders. She built several low cost housing estates in the Leeds area. She was also active locally in founding and supporting networking organisations for businesswomen, becoming the first President of Soroptimists International’s Halifax branch in 1928.
She was a founding member of the Women’s Engineering Society in 1919, member of its first council and co-founder of the Electrical Association for Women in 1924. In 1926-28 she was the president of WES and remained active almost until her death in 1942.
Engineer of the Week No.32, Frances Dora Heywood BSc, PhD, MInstMet (nee Weaver) (14th April 1902 - 18th September 1994)
Today we remember metallurgist Frances Heywood on her 117th birthday.
Frances Weaver was the fourth daughter of an itinerant Methodist preacher, and was a Methodist her whole life. Although born in northwest London, the family followed her father’s work and she was educated in Yorkshire: at Bradford Girls Grammar School and Sheffield High School. She was then awarded an Arnott Scholarship to study at Bedford College, University of London in 1920 from which she graduated in 1924 with a first class honours degree in chemistry. She then worked as Assistant Metallurgist to the Lanston Monotype Corporation Ltd, at Harley, Surrey, where her work put her in charge of the hardening and plating workshops. The firm was a very large one, employing a thousand men to make the type on which printing then depended. Coming straight from university she had a lot to learn on the practical side and was able to befriend the foreman who taught her a lot of what she needed to know and enabled her to quietly ask the company’s fitters to help her maintain the motorbike on which she commuted to work.
Engineer of the Week No.31: Winifred Joyce "Winnie" Drinkwater (11th April 1913 - 6th October 1996)
Today we remember Scottish aviator and engineer, Winnie Drinkwater on her 106th birthday.
Scotswoman Winnie Drinkwater was a very well-known pilot and engineer in the 1930s. She was born in the rural village of Waterfoot to the south of Glasgow, her father was a mechanical engineer. Her father Albert was born in Italy with an Italian mother, and her mother Emma Banner, a district nurse, was the daughter of a Glasgow art teacher. In June 1930, at the earliest possible age of 17 she joined the Scottish Flying Club near Renfrew and over the next 2 years took part in Air Pageants and races, winning cups even before she was old enough to hold her full licence. On 8th May 1932, aged 19, she gained her pilots licence, her "B" (Commercial) licence on 14th May 1932, and her instructors licence later that year. This made her in quick succession the youngest pilot in the country and then the youngest ever UK commercial pilot. 1932 continued as an exciting year with various other public flying events including, in September, winning the Scottish Flying Club trophy for landing and in October,one of the Club's cups for air racing, winning by just 2 seconds over a course of 15 mile.
Engineer of the Week No.30 Adelaide Anderson.
Today we remember Factory Inspector Dame Adelaide Mary Anderson, DBE (8th April 1863 - 28th August 1936), on her 156th birthday.
Although not an engineer by training and not the very first of the Lady Factory Inspectors, Dame Adelaide Anderson became one of the best known and had close connections with the Women’s Engineering Society at its outset in the final years of her own career. Although her principal role related to the working conditions, pay, hours etc of women and children, as the safety legislation grew so too did the Lady Factory Inspector’s need to understand the technicalities of the processes she was observing.
Born in Australia to a Scottish family, Adelaide Anderson was educated in London at Queen's College in Harley Street and then at Girton College, Cambridge, where she studied for the Moral Sciences Tripos, graduating in 1887. Her first civil service job was in 1892, as a clerk in the Royal Commission on Labour as a clerk. By 1894 she had become one of theHome Office’s first female factory inspectors and was promoted to be one of His Majesty's Principal Lady Inspector of Factories in 1897, dealing with issues of health and safety, working hours and conditions.
Engineer of the Week No. 29: Today we remember aeronautical engineer and pioneer g-force-pressure suit designer, Helen Grimshaw
Helen Grimshaw, OBE, BSc, PhD(6th August 1904 - 16th December 1987)
Helen Grimshaw was born in London but her upbringing was in Surrey. Her father was a civil engineer working for one of the electrical supply companies and presumably fairly prosperous as the family had 3 servants during her childhood and she was educated at a private girls’ school in London, the Frances Holland School. In 1924 she became an engineering student at the University of London and applied for student membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers, becoming one of their associate members the following year. She graduated from UCL in 1930 with a BSc (Special) Engineering and re-entered to spend the following year doing practical training in the engineering workshops.
Engineer of the Week No.28. Today we remember American mechanical engineer, Ethel H. Bailey
Ethel Bailey was an American mechanical engineer working from about 1917 to some time in the 1950s. As well as her active membership of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES was the only such society worldwide during most of her working life) she is understood to have been one of the first women to be admitted as a full member of the American Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and was also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of American Military Engineers, and the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Carlotta Bollée (née Messinisi) (c.1880-?)
Madame Carlotta Bollée might be considered to be amongst the ranks of women of her era who were “engineers by marriage”, as she was married to early automobile designer Léon Bollée, who was from an old and large family of engineers. We know nothing of her background or when she married Léon, but she was born in Vastizza, a rural area near Patras on the Gulf of Corinth, Greece, renowned for its currants.
However, our story starts in June 1908 when Wilbur Wright arrived from the USA with his plane. The Wright Flyer had been shipped to Le Havre by Orville the previous year, but had been seriously damaged when it arrived in France and was uncrated. Wilbur spent the whole summer of 1908 rebuilding the machine and getting it into flying condition. Hence the invitation to stay with the Bollées, whose reputation as friendly and hospitable made a great impression on the Wright family. Léon had offered him space in his well-established car factory to re-assemble and repair his aeroplane and was also making him two aeroengines. Wilbur and Orville Wright’s famous first flight had been at Kitty Hawk, USA in 1903 and the trip to France was largely to demonstrate the safety and reliability of their plane.
Engineer of the Week No.26: Rita de Morais Sarmento (11th February 1872 - 28th March 1931)
Today we remember Rita de Morais Sarmento, Europe’s first female professional engineer, on the 88th anniversary of her death.
Rita de Morais Sarmento was the first woman in Europe to obtain an engineering degree and professional certification (Alice Perry (UK/Eire) having gained hers in 1906). Rita obtained her degree in 1894 and professional certification in 1896, from the Polytechnic Academy of Porto, in Portugal. She was the daughter of Anselmo Evaristo de Morais Sarmento, a journalist, publisher and printer and was educated in private schools and then, from the age of 15, at the Polytechnic Academy of Porto. Her two sisters were also pioneering science-oriented girls, but they did medecine, whilst Rita chose the Civil Engineering and Public Works course, which she completed in 1894.
Engineer of the Week No. 25: Marie Laura Violet Gayler, BSc, DSc, MISI/MIM, HonMBDA (25th March 1891- 2nd August 1976) (Mrs Haughton)
Today (and every day a tooth gets filled at the dentist) we remember Marie Gayler, metallurgist, on her 128th birthday.
Marie Gayler was born in Bristol but lived most of her life in and around London. Her father was a senior civil servant, eventually the Director of Stamps and Excise, at Somerset House. Her mother, Ellen Amelia Chrismas, was an artist, a Gold Medallist of the Slade School, whose paintings were often exhibited at the Royal Academy. She and her sisters were also artistic. Somewhat surprisingly, given that money was obviously not too tight in this middle class family, it seems that she got a job as a ‘girl clerk’ with the London Post Office when she was only 16. She was educated at St Mary’s College school, London and in 1912 she gained a BSc in chemistry and mathematics from Dedford College University of London. From 1912-1915 she taught science at the prestigious Colston’s Girls’ School in Bristol but in 1915 she joined Walter Rosenhain's scientific staff in the Metallurgy Department of the National Physical Laboratory, where she would remain for the rest of her career. She and a physical chemist, Miss I. H. Hadfield, were the first women to be appointed to the scientific staff of the Department.