"SLIDE-RULE PACKIN' MAMAS"
Columbus Technical Society
Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
This presentation won a Society of Women Engineers "Professional Development Award"
L to R: Mary Lou Stuber Wright, Nova Anderson Weller, Carolee Yoder Buccalo,
Dorothy Wurster Rout, and Cadette Drafting Department Supervisor Esther Miller
The SOCIETY OF WOMEN ENGINEERS (SWE) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), hosted a dinner talk by Jean-Vi Lenthe, author of "Flying Into Yesterday: My Search for the Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical Engineering Cadettes," at OSU's Ohio Union Building. Lenthe gave a dynamic presentation on the Cadettes, with historical and modern photos, demonstrating how the door to aeronautical design had swung tantalizingly open during WWII for women to help design aviation’s future shape.
The OSU audience included dozens of younger women engineers and a few OSU engineering students, all keenly receptive to the talk. They were especially intrigued by the details Cadettes provided about life on the job as aero-engineers at Curtiss-Wright’s Columbus airframe plant. The panel included four Cadettes, one Cadette’s electronics engineering daughter and the female supervisor of the drafting department at the Columbus plant (“Home of the Helldiver”), who, at 95, is still an incredibly articulate dynamo.
Though she published her initial book on the Cadettes in 2011, Lenthe is still collecting stories from these bright, resourceful women for a sequel with more detail about their work, both in the plants and in America’s post-war society.
Even though most advanced degree programs in aeronautics were closed to them after the war, they used their analytical minds, advanced math proficiency, design aptitude, and drafting/drawing skills in a wide variety of helicopter and airplane companies, universities, public schools, private industry, and the government sector. Lenthe proposes initiating a "Cadette Hall of Fame" based on her discovery of three Cadettes who have university buildings and astronomy laboratories named after them or who made other significant contributions in higher education.
Lynn Brucker, daughter of Cadette Nova Anderson Weller, joined the panel to tell about her mother's influence in her choice of career as an electrical/electronics engineer. She recently retired after 30 years working for the Research Center at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.