LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 2, 2012) — In celebration of the University of Kentucky's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2015, the 30th of 150 weekly installments on the university remembers the success of alumna Margaret Ingels.
Margaret Ingels was born Oct. 25, 1892, in Paris, Ky. She came to the University of Kentucky hoping to study architecture but there was no degree granting program on the campus during that time. Dean F. Paul Anderson persuaded her instead to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering and in 1916, Ingels became the first woman at UK to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
Upon graduation, Ingels accepted a position in the engineering department of the Chicago Telephone Company. After a brief term of employment, she joined the Carrier Lyle Heating and Ventilation Corporation in New Jersey. She left Carrier to return to UK in order to finish a master’s degree in engineering, graduating in 1920, again as the first woman. Ingels was the second woman engineering graduate in the United States and the first woman to receive a professional degree of mechanical engineer.
After graduation, Ingels was asked to work at the United States Bureau of Mines at the Pittsburgh Laboratory. Anderson, dean of the UK Engineering School (now the College of Engineering), was the director of the lab. In 1921, he asked Ingels to work with other members of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers. Her assignment included field tests for the New York Commission on School Ventilation. It was during this time that she perfected a new portable machine that determined the amount of germ-laden dust in schoolrooms and public places.
Returning to Carrier in 1931, Ingels helped perfect the sling psychrometer, which is used to read the relative humidity of the air. She worked in several departments including public relations until her retirement in 1953. After her retirement, she lived in Lexington and authored a book about a colleague, "Willis Haviland Carrier: Father of Air Conditioning."
Because of her achievements, both educational and occupational, Ingels was chosen, along with Eleanor Roosevelt, to be recognized as part of the 1940 Women's Centennial Congress. She was also awarded an honorary law degree in 1957 by UK. The UK College of Engineering inducted Margaret Ingels into its 1993 Hall of Distinction.
A UK alumnus and a pioneer in the air conditioning industry, Ingels passed away in Lexington, on Dec. 13, 1971.
In 2005, a new residence hall, named Ingels Hall, was constructed. The hall houses a living-learning community that includes specialized programming for a cluster of female engineering students living in the Women in Engineering Wing. The Margaret Ingels papers and photographs are preserved at the UK Libraries Special Collections.
This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections. Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
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