Remarkable Women In Engineering

Edith Clarke

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.

Edith Clarke 1883 - 1959 , born in a small farming community in Maryland in 1883, went to Vassar College to study mathematics and astronomy and graduated in 1908 with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Subsequently, she taught mathematics at a private girls' school in San Francisco, and then at Marshall College in Huntington, WV. In the fall of 1911, Edith enrolled as a civil engineering student at the University of Wisconsin. At the end of her first year, she took a summer job as a "Computer Assistant" to AT&T research engineer Dr. George Campbell and was so interested in her work that she stayed on at AT&T to train and direct a group of (human) "computers."

She was born in Ellicott City, Maryland in 1883, one of nine children. Both her parents died by the time she was twelve and with the money she inherited when she turned 18, she decided to study mathematics and astronomy at Vassar College. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1908, then taught mathematics and physics, first at a private girls' school in San Francisco and then at Marshall College in West Virginia. Wanting to be an engineer, however, Clarke enrolled in the civil engineering program at the University of Wisconsin in 1911. A summer job as a mathematical computing assistant at AT&T changed those plans, though, as she decided to remain full-time at AT&T. One of the first computational tasks she was assigned was to calculate the first seven terms of an infinite series that represented a probability function. Clarke eventually became the manager of a group of women "computers" who made calculations for the Transmission and Protection Engineering Department during World War I. During that time she also studied radio at Hunter College and electrical engineering at Columbia University.

One of nine children, Edith Clarke was born to lawyer John Ridgely Clarke and Susan Dorsey Owings on February 10, 1883, in Howard County, Maryland.[5] After being orphaned at age 12, she was raised by an older sister. She used her inheritance to study mathematics and astronomy at Vassar College, where she graduated in 1908.

After college, Clarke taught mathematics and physics at a private school in San Francisco and at Marshall College. She then spent some time studying civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, but left to become a "computer" at AT&T in 1912. She computed for George Campbell, who applied mathematical methods to the problems of long-distance electrical transmissions.[6] While at AT&T, she studied electrical engineering at Columbia University by night.

In 1918, Clarke enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the following year she became the first woman to earn an M.S. in electrical engineering from MIT.[1] Clarke's thesis at MIT was supervised by A.E.Kennelly and was titled "Behavior of a lumpy artificial transmission line as the frequency is indefinitely increased."[7]

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