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Carrier, Willis Haviland (26 November 1876–07 October 1950), inventor, was born in Angola, New York, the son of Duane Williams Carrier, a dairy and fruit farmer, and Elizabeth Haviland, a schoolteacher. From an early age, Carrier showed an interest and ability in mechanics. Graduating in 1893 from Buffalo’s Central High School, he was eager to pursue an engineering course at Cornell University, but the onset of a nationwide depression forced him to spend almost four years teaching at a local school....

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Morris Cooke [left to right] Morris Cooke and H. H. Bennett, 1936. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USF34-005269-E).

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Cooke, Morris Llewellyn (11 May 1872–05 March 1960), consulting management engineer, was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, one of eight children born to William Harvey Cooke, a physician, and Elizabeth Richmond Marsden. Morris Cook attended Lehigh University, where he obtained a degree in mechanical engineering in 1895. At age twenty-eight Cooke married Eleanor Bushnell Davis, an heiress who shared his progressive political views. They had no children....

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Cooley, Mortimer Elwyn (28 March 1855–25 August 1944), engineer and educator, was born near Canandaigua, New York, the son of Albert Blake Cooley and Achsah Bennett Griswold, farmers. After attending the Canandaigua Academy, Cooley taught for a year and then gained admission in 1874 to the U.S. Naval Academy. The navy of the Reconstruction era, poorly financed and overstocked with officers, offered dim prospects for a career, but it gave Cooley a solid education in mathematics and engineering and a habit of command that he kept until the end of his life. Cooley served briefly as a ship’s engineer after graduating in 1878. In 1879 he married Caroline Elizabeth Moseley of Fairport, New York; the couple had four daughters. In 1880 he was detailed to teach steam engineering and naval architecture at the University of Michigan under the provisions of a new federal law that sought to give useful work to underemployed officers. The law stipulated that officers on loan to universities should receive the rank of full professor. Thus, Cooley became, at age twenty-six, a full professor at the University of Michigan. He would later claim that he was, at that time, one of only two mechanical engineers in the state. Be this as it may, the University of Michigan needed Cooley much more than did the navy. He resigned his commission in 1885 and, with the exception of brief service as an engineer aboard a blockade ship during the Spanish-American War, spent the rest of his career at Ann Arbor....

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Crosthwait, David Nelson, Jr. (27 May 1898–25 February 1976), mechanical engineer, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of Dr. David Nelson Crosthwait, and Minnie Harris. He attended elementary school and graduated from high school in Kansas City, Missouri.

Crosthwait received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1913. That same year he began lifelong employment with the C. A. Dunham Company (later Dunham-Bush) in Chicago, where he distinguished himself nationally in the field of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) technology. By 1915 he had been appointed to the position of engineering supervisor, and by 1919 he had risen to the position of research engineer. In 1920 Crosthwait received a Master of Science degree in engineering from Purdue University....

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Emmet, William Le Roy (10 July 1859–26 September 1941), electrical and mechanical engineer, was born on Travers Island, near New Rochelle, New York, the son of William Jenkins Emmet, a businessman, and Julia Colt Pierson. He spent much of his boyhood swimming, climbing trees, and hunting and fishing in nearby woods and swamps. Although he had keen powers of observation, his early scholastic achievements were not impressive. At fourteen, Emmet was sent with a younger brother to a boarding school in Lennoxville, Quebec. This was a miserable experience for young William, and his only comfort was the Anglican church service he attended every afternoon. Curiously, within a year or two, Emmet lost all interest in religion, and it held no place in his later life. In June 1875 he took the Naval Academy entrance examinations and failed badly. The following winter he enrolled at the Maryland Agricultural College to prepare for the Naval Academy, and in June 1876 he entered the Naval Academy after barely passing the examination. Emmet graduated in 1881, ranking fifty-fourth in a class of seventy-six, and was honorably discharged by the navy in 1883....

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Fritz, John (21 August 1822–13 February 1913), mechanical engineer, was born in Chester County, southeastern Pennsylvania, the son of George Fritz, a farmer, mechanic, and millwright, and Mary Meharg. As a boy he helped his father in farming and repairing machinery and for several years attended local schools, three months in winter and three in summer, as was then customary for farmboys in Pennsylvania. In 1838 he became an apprentice in blacksmithing and country machine work in nearby Parkersburg, where he saw mechanical developments that whetted his ambition. Parkersburg was on the line of the Philadelphia and Camden Railroad, later part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and transportation by railroad was in an initial stage of growth. The industry needed iron, and southeastern Pennsylvania was the center of the nation’s iron industry. Fritz remained in Parkersburg for five years, then returned for a brief stay on his father’s farm, and in 1844 moved to Norristown, Pennsylvania, for employment in the ironworks of Moore and Hooven. There he mastered the art of puddling, the process by which pig iron is changed into wrought iron; learned to operate a rolling mill; and became successively night foreman and general manager of Moore and Hooven’s mill. In 1849 he resigned and over the next five years held various positions in which he learned other aspects of the iron industry, including rolling T rails at Safe Harbor, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; remodeling the Kunzie Furnace from the use of charcoal as a fuel to anthracite coal at the Schuylkill; and superintending the construction of a shop and foundry at Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, on the Lehigh River. In 1851 Fritz married Ellen W. Maxwell; they had one child who did not reach adulthood....

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Gibbs, George (19 April 1861–19 May 1940), mechanical engineer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Francis Sarason Gibbs, a grain exporter, and Eliza Gay Hosmer. Following his 1882 graduation as a mechanical engineer from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, Gibbs worked for ...

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Halsey, Frederick Arthur (12 July 1856–20 October 1935), mechanical engineer, journalist, and prominent opponent of the metric system, was born in Unadilla, New York, the son of Dr. Gaius Leonard Halsey, a physician, and Juliet Carrington. He attended Unadilla Academy and went on to study engineering at Cornell under the noted professor John E. Sweet, with whom he maintained close contact throughout his career....

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Hewitt, Peter Cooper (05 March 1861–25 August 1921), inventor, mechanical and electrical engineer, and manufacturer, was born in New York City, the son of Abram Stevens Hewitt, an iron manufacturer, merchant, and politician, and Sarah Amelia Cooper. Hewitt attended Stevens Institute of Technology at Hoboken, New Jersey, and Columbia University School of Mines in New York City. The fortune amassed by his father and his maternal grandfather, Peter Cooper, enabled him to pursue his own interests. As a result, he devoted much of his adult life to scientific investigation and experimentation, for which he received numerous patents. An orderly and determined individual, his strict work regimen was to attend to business interests in the morning while his afternoons and evenings were devoted to experimentation and investigations in his laboratory, located in the tower of the old Madison Square Garden. This intense schedule continued for three-quarters of the year and was followed by three months totally devoid of work and devoted to relaxation, travel, and sports....

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Hodgkinson, Francis (16 June 1867–04 November 1949), mechanical engineer and inventor, was born in London, England, the son of Francis Otter Hodgkinson and Margaret Thompson, occupations unknown. Hodgkinson attended the Royal Naval School, New Cross, in his youth. His practical engineering training began in 1882 with a machinist’s apprenticeship at Clayton & Shuttleworth, an agricultural engineering firm that produced farm equipment and steam engines. In addition, Hodgkinson continued to pursue a formal education by taking night courses at the Department of Science and Art at New Kensington in London and at the Rutherford College of Durham University....

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Kimball, Dexter Simpson (21 October 1865–01 November 1952), mechanical and industrial engineer, was born in New River, New Brunswick, Canada, the son of William Henry Kimball, a millwright, and Jane Patterson. In 1881 Kimball moved with his family to Port Gamble in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, where his father obtained employment in the local lumber industry and Kimball received an excellent grade-school education that included Latin, Greek, algebra, and elementary physics....

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Kingsbury, Albert (23 December 1862–28 July 1943), inventor, mechanical engineer, and professor of engineering, was born at Goose Lake near Morris, Illinois, the son of Lester Wayne Kingsbury, the superintendent of a stoneware factory, and Eliza Emeline Fosdick. After graduating from high school in 1880, Kingsbury acquired his advanced education in fits and starts. He studied one year at Buchtel College (later University of Akron) in Ohio in the Latin-scientific course but dropped out in 1881 and took a job as a machinist’s apprentice with the Turner, Vaughn and Taylor Company of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. In September 1884 Kingsbury reentered school at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where he studied mechanical engineering. At the end of his sophomore year, because of a lack of funds, he again dropped out of school. Later in 1886, at the arrangement of Professor S. W. Robinson of Ohio State University, he went to work at the Carver Cotton Gin Company, East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He then became a machinist at Warner and Swasey Company in Cleveland, Ohio. In the fall of 1887 Kingsbury reentered school at Sibley College, Cornell University. While at Cornell he studied under ...

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Lieb, John William (12 February 1860–01 November 1929), electrical and mechanical engineer, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of John William Lieb, a leather worker, and Christina Zens. Both sides of Lieb’s family immigrated to the industrial city of Newark from Württemberg, Germany, his mother’s family after first spending a number of years in Antwerp, Belgium. While growing up, Lieb learned German and French as well as English. He acquired his formal education in the local public school and at the Newark Academy, a private high school, from which he graduated in 1875. Perhaps influenced by his father’s interest in chemistry and mechanical technology, Lieb entered the preparatory high school connected with the Stevens Institute of Technology in nearby Hoboken, New Jersey, in September 1875. A year later Lieb became a student in mechanical engineering at the Stevens Institute....

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Main, Charles Thomas (16 February 1856–06 March 1943), mechanical engineer, was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Main, Jr., a mechanic, and Cordelia Green Reed. Main graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1876 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. Because of an economic depression at the time of his graduation and a lack of available jobs, he delayed embarking on his career for three years, taking advanced classes and working at MIT as an assistant instructor. In 1879 he was hired as a draftsman by the Manchester Mills textile factory in Manchester, New Hampshire. He remained there until 1881, when he was hired as an engineer by the Lower Pacific textile mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Main was married in 1883 to Elizabeth F. Appleton; they had three children....

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McMahon, Thomas A. (21 April 1943–14 February 1999), writer and educator, was born in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Howard Oldford McMahon, a physical chemist, and Lucille Nelson McMahon, a scientist. He grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, in a house his parents designed and built. After earning a B.S. from Cornell University in 1965, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned an M.S. in 1967 and completed his Ph.D. (with a focus on fluid mechanics) in 1970. He married Carol Ehlers on 20 June 1965; the couple had two children....

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Nordberg, Bruno Victor (11 April 1857–30 October 1924), mechanical engineer, and inventor, was born in Björneborg, Finland, the son of Carl Victor Nordberg, a shipbuilder, and Dores Hinze. He became acquainted with mechanical processes at home. His father died while Nordberg was attending a Finnish preparatory school and was unable to influence his son’s original career choice....

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Norden, Carl Lukas (23 April 1880–15 June 1965), mechanical engineer, was born in Semarang, Java, the son of Edward Norden, a prosperous merchant, and Cornelia Gersen. After his father’s death in 1885, Carl returned with his family to the Netherlands. Norden attended the Royal Art Academy at Dresden, Germany, from 1893 to 1896. In 1897 Norden became apprenticed to an instrument maker in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1900 he entered the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, from which he graduated four years later with a degree in mechanical engineering....

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Norton, Charles Hotchkiss (23 November 1851–27 October 1942), mechanical engineer and inventor, was born in Plainville, Connecticut, the son of John Calvin Norton and Harriet Hotchkiss. His father was a cabinetmaker in the Whiting and Royce clock dial factory, and his mother worked there painting dials. Intensely curious about mechanical devices and processes, at the age of eight Norton suffered an accident while making a toy cannon out of molten lead on his mother’s stove; pouring the lead into a mold containing some moisture resulted in an explosion and a scar on his forehead. He watched his grandmother work a loom in her attic, and he built waterwheels and small engines out of discarded spiceboxes. His parents and relatives encouraged these interests....

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Prager, William (23 May 1903–16 March 1980), professor of engineering and applied mathematics, was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, the son of Willy Prager and Helen Kimmel. In 1925 he received an engineering degree from the Technical University of Darmstadt and married (Gertrude) Ann Heyer; they had one son. He earned a doctorate in Engineering Sciences from the same institution one year later and remained as an instructor in mechanics there until 1929. At the remarkably young age of twenty-six Prager moved to the University of Göttingen as the acting director of its famous Institute for Applied Mechanics. At age thirty he returned to Karlsruhe as professor of technical mechanics at the Institute of Technology, becoming the youngest professor in Germany at the time. At this point in his career he had already published a book and more than thirty papers and was internationally known and respected as an engineer and applied mathematician for his contributions to the statics and dynamics of structures and to the theories of elasticity and plasticity....