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Posts tagged: Engineering

Aug 02 2016

Hidden Documents Within The Cooperative Extension Service Annual Reports

Annual reports and plans of work created by the Cooperative (Agricultural) Extension service document their completed tasks and goals to improve the agriculture and economy of North Carolina and its citizens. While primarily composed of text, they often contained a combination of media and information visuals designed to supplement the written information. Those supplements included pamphlets, extension circulars, newspaper clippings, radio scripts, and even blueprints.

Below are several examples of unique items digitized within these reports by the “Better Living” project.

Extension Circular No. 272 - Disease Control in the Home Garden, February 1944. From Report of Extension Work in Plant Pathology in North Carolina for 1944

Extension circulars were publications on various agricultural technical topics printed on a few pages for easy use. Many more of these were digitized in the Green and Growing project.

Magazine “Business of Farming” Autumn 1956. From North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Narrative Report for 1956

There are numerous articles and press releases within these reports from North Carolina newspapers and regional agricultural magazines. These articles were usually contributed by an extension service department agent.  The article from the “Business of Farming” magazine  (above) includes an interview with W. C. Warrick, an extension agricultural engineer and a farm couple from Alexander County, North Carolina, on the development of the best type of home for a modern (1950s) farm family.

Brochure for 1966 N. C. Farm Materials Handling Exposition - North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Annual Report - Agricultural Production, Management, and Natural Resources Use 1966.

Several brochures and flyers are important records of the educational outreach of extension agents and professors.

Oversized Bar Graph - North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Narrative Report For 1943

Oversized Bar Graph - North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Narrative Report For 1943

Many reports from the Biological and Agricultural Engineering extension office contain oversized blueprints of modern farming facilities and data charts which had to be carefully unfolded so a resource could be digitized using our overhead scanner.

Architectural Drawing - North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service Annual Report - Agricultural Production, Management, and Natural Resources Use 1965

Technical drawings from within the annual reports reveal the intricate planning of agricultural research stations and facilities in North Carolina.

Photos - Report of Extension Work in Plant Pathology in North Carolina For 1944

Many photographs of extension activities were printed within the text of some annual reports. In some cases original photographs were affixed to report pages as documentation of extension activities.

Resources related to all agricultural sciences taught by the Cooperative Extension are available as part of the NCSU Libraries’ Rare and Unique Digital Collections, which provides access to thousands of images, video, audio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics. Additionally, Historic State is rich resource for discovering information about the university’s role in creating educational materials about agriculture in North Carolina.

Mar 14 2016

Enhancing Research on Women in STEM

In honor of Women’s History Month, two NCSU Libraries Fellows, Heidi Tebbe and Virginia Ferris, organized an event at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library, co-sponsored by Kathy Titus-Becker and the WISE Village, using the iPearl Immersion Theater to demonstrate how resources at the NCSU Libraries can assist researchers and others wanting to learn more about the legacy of women in STEM at NC State, from its earliest pioneers to today.

SCRC materials highlighted in a visualization in the iPearl Immersion Theatre at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library.

SCRC materials highlighted in a visualization in the iPearl Immersion Theater at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library.

Dr. Christine Grant, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Special Initiatives in the College of Engineering at NC State, gave introductory remarks on the importance of advocacy and mentoring to increase diversity in the STEM fields. Dr. Grant became the first African American woman to join the faculty of the College of Engineering at NC State when she arrived in the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1989. In addition to being a leader in her field she is widely recognized for broadening the participation, promotion, and retention of underrepresented minorities in STEM. Dr. Grant is co-editor of the book Success Strategies From Women in STEM.

Dr. Christine Grant gives opening remarks.

Dr. Christine Grant gives opening remarks.

Following remarks in the Duke Energy Hall, Tebbe and Ferris debuted a visualization in the iPearl Immersion Theater, highlighting a selection of materials from key collections on women in STEM in the Special Collections Research Center, as well as more recent institutional data. The visualization featured materials from collections of pioneering women in the STEM fields at NC State, including Mary Yarbrough, Katharine Stinson, Gertrude Cox, Frances M. Richardson, and the NCSU Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

Included in these selections were photographs, documents, and oral history clips that offer insight into the experiences and perspectives of these early women leaders in STEM at NC State. A letter from Gertrude Cox offered words of encouragement to a young woman interested in entering the field of statistics in 1959:

The field of statistics is certainly wide open to women. If you are willing to take the mathematics and science courses and then work very hard to get beyond the junior level, there are all sorts of opportunities to go as far as you wish.

- Gertrude Cox, 1959

Katharine Stinson’s collection contains several oral history recordings that allow us to actually see and hear her tell her story, in her own voice.  She tells the story of meeting Amelia Earhart when she was a teenager working at an airport in Raleigh. When Stinson told Earhart that she wanted to become a pilot, Earhart told her to become an engineer instead, so she could be in charge of the planes that pilots flew. With this, Stinson made the decision that she would go to NC State to become an engineer.

Oral history with Katharine Stinson, conducted by Gene Nora Jessen, 1990.

Oral history with Katharine Stinson, conducted by Gene Nora Jessen, 1990.

The interview includes this story and the story of what happened when Stinson arrived at NC State to enroll in the College of Engineering:

After I graduated from high school, I found out that at North Carolina State University they taught Mechanical Engineering with an Aeronautical Option. So I went up to enroll in Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Option. When I got there – I guess I was sort of stupid – I didn’t notice that there weren’t any other girls around, but anyway.

When I got up to the place to enroll, this man looked up at me and said, ‘What are you doing here, little girl?’ And I said, ‘I’ve come here to enroll in engineering.’ He said, ‘Girls don’t go to school here. Girls don’t study engineering.’ I said, ‘Oh, I want to be an aeronautical engineer.’ And he said, ‘We don’t take girls here.’

- Katharine Stinson, oral history with Gene Nora Jessen, 1990

The man that Stinson refers to in this excerpt was the dean of the College of Engineering at the time, Wallace C. Riddick. Stinson went to Meredith College and in just one year she earned two years’ worth of academic credit. She returned to apply to NC State and was admitted in 1937 as the first woman student in Engineering. She graduated in 1941 and went on to become a founder of the Society of Women Engineers, the first woman woman engineer hired by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (now the FAA), and a lifelong advocate for women entering STEM fields.

The complete video oral history with Katharine Stinson, conducted by her colleague Gene Nora Jessen in 1990, is available online in our digitized collections.

While these materials and collections provide an important foundation for documenting this important history, it is an area where the SCRC continues to grow and build. Using the high technology spaces at the Hunt Library for this event allowed us to engage the NC State community to create greater awareness of what we have in our collections, and of our efforts to continue to build collections on women in STEM at NC State. We look forward to continuing to build partnerships with students, faculty, alumni, and other members of the community in our efforts to capture an increasingly inclusive and diverse record of the university.

Kathy Titus-Becker and students from the WISE Village discuss the visualization in the iPearl Immersion Theatre.

Kathy Titus-Becker and students from the WISE Village discuss the visualization in the iPearl Immersion Theatre.

Visit go.ncsu.edu/researchwomeninstem for information and resources related to research on women in STEM at NC State University, and contact us if you have questions or ideas about using or building upon these collections.

Oct 13 2015

Women in STEM at NC State

Women students and faculty have been making their mark on the STEM fields at NC State since the early 20th century.  We’ve highlighted a few of these women below.  Learn more about the legacy of women in STEM at NC State by exploring our Historical State timeline and our collections!

Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough, 1927.

Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough was the first woman to receive a master’s degree from NC State. Dr. Yarbrough was the daughter of Louis T. Yarbrough, a member of the first class to graduate from NC State (then NC A&M). A graduate of Meredith College, she earned an M.S. in chemistry from NC State in 1927 – the first year the college awarded degrees to women.  You can learn more about Yarbrough’s life and legacy in the Mary Yarbrough Papers.

Instructor Peele Johnson, Virginia Powell of Smithfield, NC, and Caddie Walker of Burlington, NC, studying engineering drawing in defense training, 1942.

The students in the photo above were part of a group of eighteen women who were awarded fellowships by Pratt and Whitney Aircraft to receive engineering training at NC State College during World War II. Pratt and Whitney committed to employ the women as engineering aides after they successfully completed the 48-week course. NC State was the only school in the South selected for the fellowships.

Frances Richardson, 1950s.

Frances M. Richardson was the first woman to join the School of Engineering faculty at NC State in 1951. She was a research associate in North Carolina State University’s Department of Engineering Research from 1951-1980, served as associate director of NCSU’s Engineering Operations Program from 1980 to 1983, and joined the faculty of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering in 1990. Her research focused on the areas of fluid mechanics and infrared imaging thermography. In 1979, she was elected the first president of the Society of Women Engineers, North Carolina Section, and she is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists.

Civil engineering student Emily Brown with surveying equipment, 1951.

Emily Brown Blount of Fayetteville, NC, became the first female student to receive a B.S. in civil engineering from NC State in 1953, and received a profession degree in civil engineering in 1954. She entered a discipline dominated by male students at faculty and entered NC State at a time when relatively few women students were enrolled and the idea of welcoming female students was not universally accepted, as seen in this 1952 article in the Technician. Blount went on to become the first female licensed Professional Engineer in North Carolina in 1960, and in 2007 she was inducted into the North Carolina Transportation Hall of Fame.

Katharine Stinson with students, 1970s.

Katharine Stinson was the first woman to graduate from NC State’s School of Engineering, earning a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree, Aeronautical Option. Stinson was taking flying lessons at the old Raleigh Airport on US-401 when Amelia Earhart flew in for a visit in the early 1930s. When Stinson told Earhart that she wanted to become a pilot, Earhart advised her to become an engineer, a career Stinson pursued in spite of obstacles that prevented most young women from striving for such a degree.  Stinson went on to become the first woman engineer hired by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, now the Federal Aviation Administration, and was a lifelong advocate of women in Engineering and the STEM fields.  Learn more about Stinson’s legacy in her the Katharine Stinson Papers.

Student Angela Skelton at scanning electron microscope, 1974.

Carolyn Hunt, wife of Governor Jim Hunt, working in a testing lab in the College of Textiles, circa 1965.

Research Assistant Elizabeth M. Whitener placing slide in Norelco Diffraction Analysis Apparatus in Engineering Research x-ray laboratory, 1956.

Undergraduate student in Agriculture at microscope, working on a research project with Dr. Nusbaum and Dr. Bostian, 1966.

Sep 14 2015

National Medal of Technology and Innovation Recipient Donates Papers to NCSU Libraries

Dr. Jayant Baliga, an internationally recognized leader in electrical and computer engineering, has donated his papers to the North Carolina State University Libraries. Lauded by Scientific American as one of the heroes of the semiconductor revolution, Baliga received this year’s Global Energy Prize.

In addition to being a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, Dr. Baliga is the director of NC State’s Power Semiconductor Research Center. Among his many accomplishments, he is perhaps best known for his invention of a power semiconductor device, the insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT), often used as an electronic switch in modern appliances, from electric cars to air conditioners to portable defibrillators. The IGBT, as he describes it, has had “a major impact on creating a sustainable world-wide society with improved living standards while mitigating the environmental impact.”

According to Dr. Louis A. Martin-Vega, Dean of Engineering at NC State, Dr. Baliga’s “groundbreaking scholarship and leadership have been instrumental in addressing major global societal challenges and helping the College of Engineering and NC State become a research powerhouse. Throughout his career, Jay has generously shared his expertise with our students and faculty so I am not surprised and very pleased that he has chosen to share his life’s work with future students and faculty through the NCSU Libraries.”

Baliga has received numerous awards during his distinguished career, some of which include the 2014 IEEE Medal of Honor, the 2011 National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama, the 2012 North Carolina Award for Science, the 1999 IEEE Lamme Medal, the 1998 IEEE Ebers Award, the 1998 O. Max Gardner Award, the 1993 IEEE Liebman Award, the 1992 Pride of India Award (First Recipient), and the 2011 Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence.

He is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Electronic Design Engineering Hall of Fame, the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame, the European Academy of Sciences, and he is an IEEE Life Fellow. Baliga has authored or edited 19 books and over 500 scientific articles and has been granted 120 U.S. Patents.

Baliga received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (1974) and his M.S. in Electrical Engineering (1971) from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He spent fifteen years at the General Electric Research and Development Center, leading their power device studies. There, he received the highest scientific rank of Coolidge Fellow. Baliga joined NCSU in 1988 as a Full Professor and was promoted in 1997 as Distinguished University Professor.

His papers will be housed in the Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries and include records from the Power Semiconductor Research Center—meeting documents, vendor information, software agreements, technical working group meeting reports, and related administrative files. Also included in his Papers are Electric Power Research Institute patent applications and other like materials.

The SCRC holds research and primary resources in areas that reflect and support the teaching and research needs of the students, faculty, and researchers at the university. By emphasizing established and emerging areas of excellence at NC State University and corresponding strengths within the Libraries’ overall collection, the SCRC develops collections strategically in order to support NC State’s growth as a world-class academic institution.

Feb 28 2013

Celebrating Sweet Potato Month with Harvesters

February is apparently Sweet Potato Month (according the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission!) and there’s no better way to celebrate and close out such a month than learning a bit about the history of sweet potato harvesters that help the sweet potato move from the field to our plates.

Sweet potatoes have long been a top crop in North Carolina and the state has been the top producer of the orange vegetable in the United States since 1971.  Developments in sweet potato harvesters that help mechanize the harvest have played a key role in helping NC stay on top as sweet potato producer.  Researchers at NC State have been working on harvesters since the 1940s.

One of the first machines that was developed for sweet potatoes here at NC State was the “vine row harvester” which helped to pull up the sweet potato vines and make it easier to pull the potatoes from the field.  The harvester could be attached to a tractor and easier driven through the field, while simultaneously doing little damage to the actual sweet potatoes.

In the 1970s, more work was done on more fully automating the harvesting process, with a mechanized harvester that pulled up the vine, plucked the sweet potatoes off of it and left just the loose sweet potatoes in the field to be picked up.  A film of this machine in action can be seen here: Sweet Potato De-Viner in Action.  Today, sweet potatoes are still picked by hand, as their skins make them too delicate to be gathered by machines, like Irish potatoes are.

To learn more about sweet potato research done at NC State, visit materials digitized through our digitization project Cultivating a Revolution here.

Feb 21 2013

Sorting out Healthy Pistachios

Pistachios have been all over the media lately as the latest “it” healthy nut.  There are humorous commercials featuring them and recipes using them are widely available.  Most of our pistachios eaten in the US today come from California and we can be reasonably sure that they’re safe to eat.  However, back in the 1970s, there were still many concerns about pistachios that had been tainted by aflatoxins coming into US market from growers overseas.  Pistachios are tainted by aflatoxins when they are poorly harvested or processed.  Aflatoxins occur because of molds that can grow when the pistachios are improperly handled.

In the mid-1970s, researchers and students at North Carolina State University in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering developed a process using UV light to sort out those pistachios infected with aflatoxins from those that were safe to eat.  The research was funded by pistachio producers and those who were importing the nuts to the United States.  While there are still news articles that pop up from time to time regarding issues with aflatoxin infected pistachios, inventions such as these have helped us not to worry about getting sick while enjoying the health benefits of the green nut.

To learn more about the pistachio sorter and other inventions from the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, visit our digital collections site here.  These materials have been digitized as part of the Cultivating a Revolution digitization grant project.

Aug 13 2012

Katharine Stinson: “In her own house”

Contributed by Samantha Rich

Katherine Stinson with three students.

Katherine Stinson with three students.


In the early twentieth century many women faced challenges entering historically male-dominated fields at colleges throughout the country. In 1941 Katharine Stinson became the first woman to graduate from NC State College with a degree in engineering. A year later the mechanical engineering major made history again when she became the first woman to work at the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA). A look in the Katharine Stinson Papers, 1937-2001, available from the NCSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center, reveals some of the challenges/stereotypes Stinson faced as a female NC State student and as a woman climbing the career-ladder in a predominantly male field.

Because women were prohibited from entering State College as underclassmen, Katharine Stinson spent a year at Meredith College, where she took an astounding forty-eight hours worth of credit, in hopes of gaining admission to State’s engineering school the following year. When Stinson entered State College in 1937, she was the only female student registered in the School of Engineering. Stinson summarized her experiences and her desire to studying engineering in the May 1940 edition of The Wataugan, State College’s humor magazine. In an article entitled “Meet the Coeds” Stinson stated, “This is a technical school and one which requires hard work from its students, and few girls would enter or remain here unless they were in earnest and sincerely ambitious. So many courses are required which aren’t offered in other schools, and it decidedly would benefit girls who seek to follow their desired work.” The magazine described Stinson as a “quiet, unassuming girl, sincerely interested in her work” and detailed her membership in many student organizations, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the State College Flying Club, and the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences.

As the first woman to work at the CAA Stinson received a lot of media attention. The Raleigh News and Observer stated, “The Civil Aeronautics Administration has shattered precedent by employing an engineer who wears a skirt instead of trousers.” By 1942 the CAA had hired three additional female employees, causing Washington D.C.’s Times-Herald to run the headline “’Man-Handled’ Technical Jobs in CAA Turned Over to Women.” The article stated, “Four women in the engineering department of the Civil Aeronautics Administration are doing their best, these days, to prove that it’s no longer a man’s world. With trained male civilians donning uniforms, these four women are holding down-and doing well-jobs which men would occupy in peace times.” This article suggests that women, like Stinson, would not have jobs in skilled technical fields had the demands of World War II not necessitated their presence. Upon her promotion to Assistant Director of the Specifications Department of the CAA in 1946, the News and Observer ran another article spotlighting Stinson as a highly trained engineer. However, instead of printing images of Stinson in her office redesigning airplanes, the N&O ran images of Stinson icing a cake. The article ended stating, Stinson lives “in her own house in Chevy Chase, Md.” The emphasis on Stinson’s home ownership as a single woman suggests that Stinson’s situation was uncommon in the 1940s, perhaps something to be seen as special.

The university recognized Stinson and her successful career in aeronautics in 1997 by renaming North Yarborough Drive in her honor. To learn more about Katharine Stinson or the NC State College of Engineering, please visit the Special Collections Research Center.