Women in Engineering, February 2015

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) of New York State recognized Edith Clarke on their Facebook page today. Clarke was born February 10, 1883. She was the first woman to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering from MIT (1919); the first female professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin; and she invented the Clarke Calculator (“a graphical device for solving power transmission line equations”).

In 1949-50, Clarke received the Women’s Badge from Tau Beta Pi. At the time, she was a professor of engineering at UT. In response to the Texas Alpha Chapter’s nomination of Clarke, then TBP Secretary-Treasurer Robert H. Nagel, NY D ’39, wrote “The Executive Council has approved the award of a Women’s Badge to Professor Clarke after considerable debate… the 1934 Convention action which stated that the Women’s Badge could be awarded by chapters to any woman student who meets the same qualifications as required for men.” Clarke became the first woman to join Tau Beta Pi as an eminent engineer and her election led to the immediate consideration of at least six other “professional” women engineers. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1959, roughly ten years before full membership in Tau Beta Pi was offered to women.

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Watch this video entitled This is Us: Ernestine Fu. The video was made in 2012 and profiled her dynamic undergraduate life. Ernstine, CA G ’13, is currently a senior associate & Kauffman Fellow at Alsop Louie Parnters. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from Stanford University. She was a 2014 TBP Fellow, former CA Gamma Chapter President & Vice President, and is currently an advisor to the CA Gamma Chapter.

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Rebecca K. Kramer, Ph.D. (MD A ’07), is a mechanical engineering professor at Purdue University. She was recently profiled by the Lafayette Journal & Courier (IN) for her research in “soft robotics.” Dr. Kramer is the founder of Purdue’s Faboratory — a mashup of ‘fabric’ and ‘laboratory’ — which since 2013 has worked to create robotic fabrics capable of accomplishing tasks more traditional, rigid robots can’t. She spoke about the development of soft robotics:

“Soft robotics is at such a stage of infancy that the basic components — the things that will make it move, the things that will allow power to be transported from a storage unit to a muscle, sensors that tell the robot anything about its environment or its state — all of those things just don’t exist,” she said. “We are literally building soft robotics from the ground up.” Her groundbreaking work also landed her on the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in manufacturing and industry. Click here to read the article

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