Celebrating Our People
Lois Aileen Bey,
Vice President of Progressive Awareness and
Society of Women Engineers Pioneer and life member
Armour College of Engineering's
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Illinois Institute
of Technology (IIT) celebrated a century of excellence in chemical engineering
education and research in September 2001. One of the very oldest chemical
engineering programs in the United States, Armour officially established
a Department of Chemical Engineering in 1901 and conferred its first
chemical engineering degree to Charles W. Pierce, one of the first African-American
chemical engineers in the nation. Over the last 100 years close to 4,000
individuals have followed in his footsteps and received graduate and
undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering from IIT. In 1950 Lois
Aileen Bey (MAL-B; Las Vegas, NV) achieved another milestone for the
program by becoming the first woman to graduate from IIT with a B.S.
degree in chemical engineering.
The inaugural event of the
centennial celebration was the Ralph Peck Memorial Lecture, given by
Dr. Ahmed Zewail, 1999 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. Following his lecture,
Jackie Johnson, a December graduate in chemical engineering, introduced
Lois to the assembly, and department chairman Dr. Hamid Arastoopour
presented Lois with a memorial plaque, "In recognition of her pioneering
role as the first female graduate in chemical engineering at IIT, her
commitment, and her contribution to the chemical engineering profession."
Lois recalled that previously the proudest moment in her life had been
when she got up on the stage at the Civic Opera House, completing a
long-held dream to receive her engineering degree. She said that this
award was another memorable moment in her lifetime.
- Patricia L. Brown
Past president of Society of Women Engineers
from MAL News, Nov/Dec 2001