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Edith Clarke: First American Female Electrical Engineer

Posted August 09, 2012 12:00 AM by SavvyExacta

Edith Clarke was an electrical engineer who understood the value of mathematics. She held many "firsts" for women in electrical engineering:

  • First woman to earn an electrical engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • First woman to present a technical paper at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE, now IEEE)
  • First woman fellow of the AIEE
  • First woman to teach in the engineering department of the University of Texas-Austin

Education and Early Career

Clarke was born in Maryland on February 10, 1883. Orphaned at a young age, she used her inheritance to attend Vassar College where she studied mathematics and astronomy. She taught mathematics after graduating in 1908. In 1911 she enrolled as a civil engineering student at the University of Wisconsin.

AT&T hired Clarke as a "computer" during the summer. In those days a computer was a person who solved mathematical equations.

Clarke was the first woman to graduate with an MS in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in 1919.

Work after Graduation

Unable to find work as an engineer, Clarke worked for General Electric, supervising computers in the Turbine Engineering Department. In the course of her work she developed the Clarke Calculator. It was a simple graphic device used to solve electrical equations.

Clark taught physics for one year, 1921, at Constantinople Women's College in Turkey. The following year she was hired by General Electric as an engineer in the Central Station Engineering Department. Clarke died on October 29, 1959.

Resources:

Agnes Scott College - Edith Clarke

Distinguished Women of Past and Present - Edith Clarke

Edison Tech Center - Edith Clarke

IEEE Global History Network - Edith Clarke

Maryland Women's Hall of Fame - Edith Clarke

Wikipedia - Edith Clarke

http://algebra-pafpu.ugr.es/mit/images/stories/mit/Clarkelaboratorio.jpg [image 1]

http://smartgirls09.pbworks.com/f/A-C%20Power%20Clarke.jpg [image 2]

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#1

Re: Edith Clarke: First American Female Electrical Engineer

08/10/2012 1:39 AM
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#2

Re: Edith Clarke: First American Female Electrical Engineer

08/10/2012 9:32 AM

She was my great aunt.

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#3
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Re: Edith Clarke: First American Female Electrical Engineer

08/10/2012 10:33 AM

Did you get to know her?

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#6
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Re: Edith Clarke: First American Female Electrical Engineer

08/10/2012 2:32 PM

No, i was born in 1948.

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#7
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Re: Edith Clarke: First American Female Electrical Engineer

08/10/2012 2:35 PM

Sorry, it wasent the year that was the problem. She lived in another state and my family never made it to there.

Ron

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#4

Re: Edith Clarke: First American Female Electrical Engineer

08/10/2012 10:34 AM

Good Luck obtaining any of her books in print.

She may be the greatest female engineer in the history of the world, and all of her books are in every known reference library in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

She is standard reading requirement for upper level power engineering or highly recommended.

She is cited at most of the power engineering seminars that I go to including SEL seminars.

She is reference in similar books on the subject by other prominent 'male' authors who even take excerpts from her work.

However, you cannot purchase any of her books.

Wiley and Sons used to print them but no longer does. I filed a complaint.

I notified prominent women's rights organizations with no reply.

Quite a tribute to the greatest 'woman' engineer in history.

Delegated to ....out of print....

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#5
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Re: Edith Clarke: First American Female Electrical Engineer

08/10/2012 10:58 AM

Not available in soft copy?

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Re: Edith Clarke: First American Female Electrical Engineer

08/15/2012 9:26 AM

There is one rare hardcover copy if you can believe the internet...

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?tn=Circuit+analysis+A-C+power+systems...

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