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Beatrice (Tilly) Shilling was born in Waterlooville, Hampshire, England, on March 8, 1909. At age 14, she bought herself a motorcycle and began working on it. Knowing she wanted to become an engineer, she apprenticed for an electrical engineering company after high school. Her employer, Margaret Partridge, founding member of the Women's Engineering Society (WES), encouraged Beatrice to pursue her engineering education. WES provided Beatrice interest-free loans for her tuition to attend the University of Manchester. She graduated in 1932 with honors and a degree in electrical engineering. She continued her studies for another year to finish a master's degree in mechanical engineering. During this year, she began her research assistantship on single cylinder, supercharged engines, under G.F. Mucklow.
In 1936, Beatrice worked for the Royal Aircraft Establishment, first as a technical writer and eventually as an engineer. She specifically worked on the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, used in fighter plans during World War II. These engines were known to stall when the aircraft was in negative gravity, due to fuel flooding the carburetor. Beatrice developed a mechanism to prevent fuel from flooding the carburetor, known as Miss Shilling's orifice. In 1941, she and her team installed this device on the Merlin engines.
Beatrice continued to be an avid motorcycle racer throughout her life. In 1934, she became the second woman to ever by awarded the Brookland's Gold Star, given for lapping the track at 100 miles per hour. She later topped that speed at 106 miles per hour. After World War II, her and her husband began racing cars, modifying and working on the cars themselves. In 1967, she even helped solved overheating problems with the Eagle Mk1 Formula racing car.
Further Reading at USC
Beatrice Shilling. (2019). Physics Today. https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.6.6.20190308a
Shilling, Beatrice (1909–1990). (2007). In A. Commire & D. Klezmer (Eds.), Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages (Vol. 2, p. 1717). Detroit, MI: Yorkin Publications. Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.libproxy2.usc.edu/apps/doc/CX2588821462/GVRL?u=usocal_main&sid=GVRL&xid=2ce93750
Royal Holloway Officially Opens Its New State-of-the-Art Science Building - the Beatrice Shilling Building. (2019, March 28). Targeted News Service.
"Beatrice Shilling (1909-1990)". Open Learn. December 21, 2018.
"Magnificent Women: Beatrice Shilling." The Women's Engineering Society UK.