Women in Engineering Day

Today is International Women in Engineering Day!  Celebrating its 9th year, IWED is raising awareness internationally for women in engineering and the career opportunities for women in this industry.  This organization also has competitions for primary and secondary school students to further encourage their success in the engineering field.  Women have helped shape the engineering world for more than a century.  Here are some amazing women engineers that we can celebrate today:

  1. Elizabeth Bragg was the first female to receive a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1876.  This made her the first official female engineer in the United States.
  2. Edith Clarke was the first woman to become a professional electrical engineer in the United States.  She was also the first woman to become a professor of electrical engineering.
  3. Rita de Morais Sarmento was the first female to obtain an engineering degree in Europe.  She received a degree in civil engineering from the Academia Politécnica do Porto and became an engineer in 1894. 
  4. Kimberly Bryant is the founder and CEO of Black Girls CODE: a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing technology and computer programming education to African American girls.  She is also an electrical engineer working in the biotechnology field at Genentech, Novartis Vaccines, Diagnostics, and Merck. 
  5. Wanda Austin was both the first woman and the first African American to hold the position of president and CEO of the Aerospace Corporation, which was the leading architect for the United States’ national security space programs.  
  6. Kate Gleason was the first female to become a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.  She was once described as, “a kind of Madame Curie of machine tools,” by Fred H. Colvin.    
  7. Beatrice Hicks was the co-founder and first president of the Society of Women Engineers.  She was also the first woman to be hired by Western Electric.  
  8. Ramille Shah, Ph.D. is an accomplished researcher and Assistant Professor of Materials & Engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University.  Shah is also the Principal Investigator at the Shah Tissue Engineering and Additive Manufacturing Lab.  Shah’s main interest is in the development of 3D printable functional materials for biomedical and non-biomedical applications, self-absorbing materials, mechanical stimulation of cells in scaffolding systems, and complex tissue and organ engineering.
  9. Evelyn Wang is known for her research on solar-powered devices to extract drinkable water from the atmosphere.  She was also nominated in 2022 as Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy.
  10. Stephanie Kwolek was a chemical engineer most notable for her discovery of poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide, the first family of synthetic fibers that had excellent stiffness and strength.  Because of this discovery, we now have Kevlar.