Who Are The Women Who Impacted Heating and Cooling?
Women’s history month would not be complete without discussing the women pioneers of the heating and air conditioning industry. These women have patented inventions that are still used today to help regulate a home's temperature. By learning through hands-on experience and mentorship, these women changed how challenges are perceived.
Over the past few decades, more women have entered the heating and air conditioning industry. This is partly due to the women who have come before them. Previous women in the industry worked hard to become recognized as professionals and masters in their fields. They were able to provide an attainable vision for women in the field today.
Women now work in various roles, including technical assistance, engineering, and business ownership. Depending on the type of job, education requirements greatly vary. A woman engineer is not the only type of professional that can make a difference. The required education necessary for the HVAC industry can open doors for women from different economic levels. To have a secure job in a profession that uses hard-earned skills is attractive to both men and women.
Alice H. Parker
Alice Parker’s gas furnace was powered by natural gas. It contained individually controlled ducts that could distribute heat throughout a home. Using her education from mechanical engineering school, she provided a system that regulated temperature in different areas of a building.
In 2019 the National Society of Black Physicists honored her invention as a “revolutionary idea” for the 1920s. She was able to channel her creativity and hard work in a way that could influence many people to come.
Margaret Ingels was the first female engineer to have graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. She was the first woman to receive a mechanical engineering degree in the country. She chose to focus her work on air conditioning to develop a temperature regulation method that worked.
After researching at the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers’ lab, she became interested in germ-laden dust. This was a particular concern of hers regarding classrooms and other public spaces where the air was available to everyone. She eventually helped create the sling psychrometer to show how much humidity is in the air.
Margaret Ingels continues to help promote women's agency even after her death in 1971. The Student Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at the University of Kentucky now provides a fund in her honor. This Fellowship Fund is designed to help students enrolled in a Master of Science degree.
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