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10 Women Who Broke New Ground in Engineering


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Kate Gleason
The company that Kate and her family built has grown into a thriving company centered on all things gear-related.
The company that Kate and her family built has grown into a thriving company centered on all things gear-related.
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Although Kate Gleason (1865-1933) was the first female to enroll in the Mechanical Arts engineering program at Cornell University, and the first woman to be voted into membership with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), she never completed a formal degree program in engineering. She was called home from college to help with the family business, a machine shop she'd worked at since the age of 11. Gleason not only helped the business in a time of need, she and her brothers ultimately grew it into an international business, the Gleason Corporation, which is still thriving today. She traveled to Europe to sell the products of machinery for the manufacturing business and was instrumental in engineering design.

During Gleason's time in manufacturing she took on a project of her own and began drafting ideas for affordable housing for workers. She also developed a process for poured concrete and published an article entitled "How a Woman Builds Houses to Sell at a Profit of $4,000." Her engineering background and design innovations, combined with her business and sales skills, took her from coast to coast and overseas and her housing ideas spread [source: Giges].


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