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Featured Engineer: How One Female Helped Shape the Mechanical Engineering Field

  • 11 July, 2019

Kate Gleason
Are you interested in becoming a licensed engineer? Becoming licensed in the engineering field has great significance in one's professional engineer- but have you ever considered how the engineering field has evolved throughout the last century to be as advanced and forthcoming as it is today? Although there are many factors that have made the engineering field so abundant, there are many individuals who helped transform the field into what it is today.

If you're interested in becoming a PE Mechanical engineer, Kate Gleason is a great figure to point out. With her inventions, her determination, and her differentiation of being female, she made enormous strides which have affected how the engineering field operates today.

1. Who was Kate Gleason?

Catherine Gleason, who went by "Kate," is largely known as being both a businesswoman and engineer in the late 1800s/ early 1900s. During her career, she was seen as an inspiration and role model for many aspiring female engineers, as she had many accomplishments in a predominantly male field.

2. What did she do?

In the late 1800s, Gleason joined her family business and worked alongside her father, eventually becoming the Secretary-Treasurer of the organization in 1890. A highlight of her work there included the design and invention of a machine which produced cheap beveled gears at a rapid pace. This invention ultimately allowed the family business to grow and flourish, and became the leading national producer of gear-cutting machinery during the First World War.

After eventually leaving her family's business to further develop her career, she began various businesses including a construction company. Altogether, she started eight businesses.

3. What were her accomplishments?

Kate Gleason had many accomplishments throughout her career. Of course, being such an accomplished female engineer in a male-dominated field is an accomplishment in itself, especially during the late 1800s/ early 1900s. To top off the gender gap, Kate became the first female to join the American Concrete Institute as well as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

4. How she is celebrated today

Although Gleason died in 1933, she is still remembered and honored by engineers everywhere. In fact, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers established its Kate Gleason Award in 2011. This award is meant to celebrate female leaders in the engineering industry.

Engineers at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) also recognize Gleason for her hard work and dedication every day, as the institution named the engineering college after her.

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