Edith Clarke was born on February 10, 1883 in Howard County, Maryland. Her parents died at a young age and she used the money she inherited at age 18 to study mathematics and astronomy at Vassar College. She graduated in 1908 with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Following graduation, she taught mathematics and physics first at an all girls' private school in San Francisco and later at Marshal College in Huntington, West Virginia.
Deciding she wanted to be an engineer, Edith began studying civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin. She took a summer job as a mathematical computer assistant at AT&T; she decided to take up this job full time. She eventually began the manager of a group of woman computer assistants who worked for the Transmission and Protection Engineering Department during World War I. During this time, she also studied radio at Hunter College and electrical engineering at Columbia University. By 1919, she became the first woman to earn an M.S. in electrical engineering from MIT.
She took at position at General Electric (the same GE location in Schenectaday, New York, as Katherine Blurr Blodgett!), working in computation. In 1921, she filed a patent for a graphical calculator, used to solve electric power transmission line problems. She presented a paper before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE), describing a mathematical method to model a power system; she was the first woman to present a paper before AIEE. She continued her career at GE, publishing eighteen technical papers between 1923 and 1945. One of the papers she co-authored in Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers won the National First Paper Prize of the Year from AIEE. She also published a book, Circuit Analysis of A-C Power Systems in 1943. Upon retiring from GE in 1945, Clarke went on to teach at the University of Texas, becoming the first female profession of electrical engineering in the United States. She retired in 1956 and died in 1959.
Further Reading at USC
Edith Clarke. (2017). Physics Today. https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.5.031415
Brittain, J. (1985). From Computor to Electrical Engineer: The Remarkable Career of Edith Clarke. IEEE Transactions on Education /, 28(4), 184–189. https://doi.org/10.1109/TE.1985.4321775
Duesterhoeft, W., Schulz, M., & Clarke, E. (1951). Determination of Instantaneous Currents and Voltages by Means of Alpha, Beta, and Zero Components. Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, 70(2), 1248–1255. https://doi.org/10.1109/T-AIEE.1951.5060554
Clarke, E. (1932). Three-Phase Multiple-Conductor Circuits. Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, 51(3), 809–821. https://doi.org/10.1109/T-AIEE.1932.5056168
"Edith Clarke." Biographies of Women Mathematicians. February 20, 2020.
"Edith Clarke." Edison Tech Center.