Edith Clarke

Edith Clarke (1883-1959), the first female electrical engineer, is known for her contributions to the manipulations of hyperbolic functions, equivalent circuits, and graphical and electrical power system analysis. Orphaned at 18, Edith attended Vassar College and graduated with her bachelor’s in mathematics and astronomy in 1908. She studied radio at Hunter College and electrical engineering at Columbia University.  In 1911, she enrolled in the civil engineering program at University of Wisconsin, but quickly began working part time for AT&T, and soon full full time, as a mathematical computing assistant, going on to manage a group of women “human computers” during WWI, making calculations for the Transmission and Protection Engineering Department. She left AT&T in 1918 to become the first woman ever to receive her master’s degree in electrical engineering at MIT in Boston. She went on to work at General Electric for 26 years, where she filed a patent for the “graphical calculator” which was used to solve electric power transmission line problems. She left GE to take a professorship at the University of Texas, where she became the first female professor of electrical engineering in the country. She wrote many acclaimed papers, as well as the book “Circuit Analysis of A-C Power Systems” published in 1943. In 1948 she became the first woman Fellow of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. In 1954 she received the Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award “in recognition of her many original contributions to stability theory and circuit analysis”.