The National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) is committed to promoting gender equality in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, and does so by introducing young girls to inspiring women Inductees through our education programs.
In honor of International Women in Engineering Day (June 23), we invite you to learn more about a few of the amazing engineers who have been Inducted into our Hall of Fame:
Josephine Garis Cochran
Josephine Garis Cochran invented the dishwasher and formed the Garis-Cochran Dish-Washing Company to manufacture and market it. After realizing that hand-washing often caused chipped dishes, she decided to create a machine that would automate the process. Her device included a set of wire compartments designed to fit plates, cups and saucers. The compartments were also placed inside a wheel that laid flat inside of a copper boil. While the motor turned the wheel, it then pumped hot, soapy water from the bottom of the boiler.
Though sales of Cochran’s dishwasher were tepid because most homes at the time were not able to supply the necessary amount of hot water, nevertheless her design was revolutionary. It was not until the 1950s that the dishwasher became popular with the general public. Today, dishwashers have become a standard appliance in most American households.
Beatrice Hicks enabled early space travel by inventing a sensor that measured gas density. Her device was groundbreaking because it was able to measure the actual amount of gas in a given space, instead of just the levels of pressure. Her technology was used in the ignition systems on the Saturn V rockets that launched the Apollo moon missions. Over the course of her career, she also developed many other sensors that monitored pressure, fuel levels and flow rates for different liquids and gases.
Hicks was also one of the first women to pursue an engineering degree, earning her B.S. in chemical engineering from Newark College of Engineering (now New Jersey Institute of Technology) in 1939, and her M.S. in physics from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1949. In 1950, she co-founded the Society of Women Engineers.
Sumita Mitra invented nanocomposite dental materials that have been used in over 600 million restorations worldwide. Before her innovation, dental composites were comparatively weak and would wear over time. This new composite filling material, Filtek™ Supreme Universal Restorative, is a versatile material that can be used to restore teeth in any area of the mouth, and it mimics the natural beauty of teeth.
Celebrate International Women in Engineering Day with NIHF
In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day, help NIHF transform the future of innovation by nominating a visionary inventor for Induction into our Hall of Fame!