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Celebrating Our People

2005 International Peace Prize

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

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