To help celebrate Women’s History Month, the Campus Celebrity Column is going to showcase pillars of Rochester Institute of Technology through out history. Instead of just being students, professors or alumnae, the column is going to take a look at key women figures in RIT’s history, starting this week off with the well known, Kate Gleason.
The name Kate Gleason is mostly known around campus as the College of Engineering. It is the only engineering college to be named after a woman in the entire country. Born and raised in Rochester, Gleason actually attended both Cornell University and Sibley College of Engraving and Mechanics Institute, which is now RIT.
She got her start in machine working at the age 12 by working for her father’s company, Gleason Works. Later in life, she helped push the company to become a top name for gear-cutting machinery in the U.S.
She stole the limelight from her father, when Henry Ford completely accredited her with the creation a machine that cut gears faster and more cost efficiently then most machines at the time.
Gleason Works was not the only company to profit from Gleason’s skills. Becoming the first women president of a U.S. national bank in 1917. During her duration as president, she promoted large-development of low cost housing.
Also becoming the first woman to be admitted into the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Gleason engraved her name into the world of engineering for being a smart, savvy businesswoman, as well as a top-notch engineer.
When she passed away, she left an estate of 1.4 million dollars, some of which was allotted to RIT, although much of it went to charities.
Not only does RIT, have a college named after her to commemorate her incredible accomplishments in the field of engineering, RIT uses her characteristics to mold engineers to not only be incredible engineers but also strong, leaderships who can provide a good role model to others.
If you’re ever passing through the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, make sure to stop by the bust of Ms. Kate herself and thank her for all the doors she opened and the awesome opportunities she helped create for women throughout Rochester, the country and the world.