SWE PHX History

Biographical Note from Arizona Archives Online:

“Lucile Blume Kaufman was born in Rock Island, Illinois on June 13, 1906. She earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado in 1927 and was inducted into the American Society of Mechanical Engineers later that year, the first woman in the country to be so honored. While working toward her degree, Kaufman earned her tuition by working six hours a day as the night librarian in the School of Engineering and later in the University’s oil laboratory. During the summer before her graduation, she worked as a draftsman for Western Electric in Chicago.

“Kaufman realized early in her career that she faced a male-dominated profession and felt that this bias worked against her throughout her life. As a result, she took an active interest in women’s issues and activities. Immediately after graduation, Kaufman was offered graduate engineering apprenticeships at General Electric and at Westinghouse. She chose to work for Westinghouse because the organization agreed to allow her to pursue her interest in Works Management. At the end of one year, Kaufman was to be assigned to Turbine Design because there was no place for women in management. She attempted to break through this glass ceiling, but although she achieved the best record of any student, her supervisor insisted that she could not hold an administrative position because the workers would refuse to accept a woman in such a capacity.

“During the next few years, Kaufman held a number of jobs. She installed a cost system for Beardsley & Piper Company, worked as a planning engineer for Western Electric, and taught math and science in several schools before taking a position with the Works Project Administration helping South Denver High School students find employment (1936-1938). This experience provided the material for her master’s thesis, An Experiment in Guidance Technique. Kaufman went on to serve as Director of the Denver Junior Consultation Center, which was financed by the National Youth Administration and the WPA (1936-1938).

“In 1938, Kaufman completed a Master’s Degree at the University of Colorado. Turning down a supervisory job with the Department of Interior and declining a position as Associate Professor of a new Vocational Guidance Program at Catholic University, she entered a convent in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Kaufman left the convent in 1942 and joined the Emerson Electric Co. of St. Louis, Missouri as an instructor for gun turret inspectors. She later became a Mechanical Engineer for the United States Navy.

“After World War II, Kaufman purchased and operated a number of vending machine routes and a hotel coffee shop but sold her interests in 1949 to take her mother to Arizona for her health. Here, she became involved in vending machines and real estate but, in 1950, retired from business to accept a position as an instructor at Arizona State College. Kaufman taught a four year program in Industrial Arts and a two year program in Engineering. In 1952 she became an Assistant Professor of Engineering and established the Design-Technology program.

“In 1954 Kaufman became an Engineer at Hughes Aircraft’s Calumet, California Project. Here, she organized a reference manual for electronic design and designed a drill jig that tool designers at Hughes, in Tucson, and at the Research Department in Culver City had not been able to produce.

“In 1955 Kaufman returned to ASU as Assistant Professor of Engineering. She developed a four-year program in Design Technology and started a refresher course under the National Association of Petroleum Engineers. She was responsible for organizing the student chapter of the Society of Mechanical Engineers at ASU and served as faculty advisor for three years. Kaufman formally retired as Assistant Professor Emeritus of Engineering in 1971 and died on December 3, 1993.”

Source: Arizona Archives Online: http://www.azarchivesonline.org/xtf/view?docId=ead/asu/kaufman.xml

SWE Phoenix turned 55 in 2019!

Explore some of SWE Phoenix History in the Gallery below including SWE Phoenix hosting Annual Conference in 1966. SWE Phoenix started as the Southwest Section in 1964 and included Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas (El Paso and Amarillo).