How do I…. find a book?

Walking into the Engineering Library, you may not see what you’re expecting. In fact you may ask, where are all of the books? It may surprise you to learn that we have over 45,000 books in the library ready for you to check out. Here’s how you find them:

The view when you enter the library

When you enter the library, you will see one bookshelf in the main area. This is where we keep our periodicals (think magazines, journals, etc). If you’re looking for an article that doesn’t have online access, check here – you might just find it. 

 

Look to your left and you’ll see a set of stairs and an elevator. Take either to get to the basement.

The stairs and elevator take you to the same place – it’s all a matter of preference.

You’ve made it to the basement! Looks like there’s some good study space here, but that’s not what we’re looking for. Let’s take a look to the left. 

I spy some books in the back. Let’s investigate some more.

Ah, here are some books! And some more study space. Let’s find the book we’re looking for. All of our books are shelved using the Library of Congress system. Here’s a quick video on how that works, but you can always ask any employee, we would be happy to help you find a book.

Hoorah! Books!

Now that you’ve found your book, head back upstairs and to the Service Desk (you walked right by it when you entered the library). To check out your book, all you need is your IowaOne card (student ID).

There you go – you have a book! Keep an eye out for some special cases, which include permanent and course reserves. A permanent reserve is a book that would be difficult for us to replace if it got lost, so we just keep an extra eye on it. A course reserve is a book that is being used as a text for a class. Course reserves have a two-hour checkout so that everyone in the class has access. If a book you’re looking for is marked as one of these, just ask at the service desk.

Permanent and course reserves are indicated in a book’s digital record. Boxed in red here.

Patents Everywhere – Levi Strauss and Blue Jeans

When you talk to your engineering librarians, you may think that we talk about Patents and Standards too often, but patents are all around you, including in your jeans! 

Born 1829 in Bavaria, Germany, Levi Strauss immigrated to the United States when he was sixteen when he immigrated to New York to escape religious discrimination by the German government (Strauss and his family were Jewish). When he arrived in America, Levi started working with his brothers at their dry goods store. In 1953 Strauss followed the thousands of hopeful people heading West for the Gold Rush. Strauss was not looking to mine any gold himself but was going to set up an expansion of his brothers’ store in California. Arriving in San Francisco, he established himself as an astute businessman, and over the next 20 years became wealthy and successful, helping to establish the first Jewish temple in San Francisco and supporting several charities. 

Levi Strauss

Despite his name being so famously connected to the brand, Strauss did not actually sew the first pair of blue jeans. This was done by a tailor by the name of Jacob Davis. According to the story, Davis was approached by a farmer’s wife who asked if he could make her husband a pair of pants that wouldn’t wear out as quickly as his other pairs. At this point, the most common material for work clothes was denim. As a fabric, denim is very thick and strong, unlikely to tear and able to put up with the wear and tear from manual labor. Being an experienced Tailor, Davis knew that the weakest point of any garment is the seams. His solution was to add metal rivets to reinforce the seams that got the most wear: the tops of the pockets and the bottom of the zipper. Davis soon had a booming business using his unique design, and recognizing that this innovation could have widespread use, Davis wanted to file a patent. He could not afford the $81 fee to file himself (it would be approximately $2,000 in today’s money), so he reached out to the wealthy businessman from whom he had purchased the denim to make the pants – Levi Strauss. In his letter to Strauss he wrote that “The secret of them Pents is the Rivits [sic] that I put in those Pockets and I found the demand so large that I cannot make them up fast enough.” Strauss agreed to the partnership, and they were awarded their patent, #139,121, “An Improvement in Fastening Pocket Openings” on May 20th, 1873. A fun fact about jeans is at this point in history they were called “waist overalls.” the term “jeans” didn’t become popular until the 1960’s.  

Illustration from the original Strauss patent

Due to a fire that destroyed most of the records for the very early days of the company, we don’t have a lot of information on the internal workings. We do know, however, that Strauss worked hard from the beginning to protect his company. When a patent is filed, the filer is the sole person who can use that technology for 17 years. Strauss knew that after those 17 years he would face stiff competition from other companies, so he set to work developing a brand that would ensure that his customers would continue to buy his product even when there were comparable items on the market. He registered trademarks and spent time and energy creating a strong image brand, including their famous “two horses” logo. Understanding that their main consumers, laborers, were often immigrants who did not read English, Strauss developed a strong visual brand. He also went after other companies for patent infringement, winning three different lawsuits between 1874 and 1876 and was awarded over $2,000 in damages (approximately the equivalent of $54,000 in 2022).  

The Levi’s “Two Horses” trademark

The original Straus patent is now expired, and today you can find rivets on a range of clothing. Over the company’s history, Levi’s has created and maintained many patents and trademarks that helped them to protect their intellectual property. Want to learn more about patents? We have resources for that! A great place to start is with our Patents Subject Guide, which you can find through this link or on our homepage.  

Downey, L. (2018, August 22). Levi Strauss. Immigrant Entrepreneurship. https://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entries/levi-strauss/ 

Unzipped Staff. (2019, July 4). The History of Denim. Levi Strauss & Co. https://www.levistrauss.com/2019/07/04/the-history-of-denim/ 

Who Made America? | Innovators | Levi Strauss. (n.d.). They Made America – PBS. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/theymadeamerica/whomade/strauss_hi.html 

Dr. Kook-Wha Koh

Dr. Kook-Wha Koh

This week we are featuring successful chemical engineer and entrepreneur Dr. Kook-Wha Koh. Born in Korea, Kook-Wha studied Chemical Engineering at Seoul National University. She and her childhood sweetheart Kwang-Kuk Koh came to the US in 1965 to further their study in chemical engineering at the University of Iowa. They chose Iowa because of their interest in membrane separations, which was being pioneered at the time by department chair Karl Kammermeyer. Kook-Wha earned her PhD in Chemical  Engineering in 1970 with her thesis “Crystallinity and Denisty in Permeation of Carbon Dioxide and water Vapor through Polymers.” Following their time at Iowa, the Drs. Koh moved down to Texas where Kook-Wha completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Rice University where she worked with heart surgery pioneer Michael DeBakey on his work with artificial hearts. 

After Texas the Koh’s moved to Detroit where Kook-Wha established Chrysan Industries in 1977, headquartered in Plymouth, MI. Chrysan (which is the Korean word for chrysanthemum) is a global supplier of automotive, industrial, and aerospace lubricants and specialty chemicals. In 1980 the company was  awarded its first patent – #4,218,329 – in metalworking fluid technology. The company also holds patents metalworking fluid technology, “formulated cutting oils, and synthetic coolants.” The company supplies to General Motors and Ford, and exports and distributes their products in Asia, Africa and South America. 

Kook-Wha has now retired, and she and her husband spend their time traveling. They have the goal of visiting all of National Geographic’s 50 places everyone should see in their lifetime. They also use their retirement to “promote and ensure equal opportunities for minority business enterprises and women-owned businesses.”

Works Cited

Chrysan Industries. (n.d.). Chrysan Industries, Inc. Global Supplier of Automotive Lubricants and Specialty Chemicals. https://www.chrysanindustries.com/en/about-us#history-of-chrysan

University of Iowa College of Engineering. (n.d.). Drs. Kwang-Kuk and Kook-Wha Koh. College of Engineering – The University of Iowa. https://engineering.uiowa.edu/alumni/awards/honor-wall/distinguished-engineering-alumni-academy-members/drs-kwang-kuk-and-kook

Avery L. Bang

Avery Bang

Avery Bang is putting her engineering skills to work to create social and economic opportunities by building bridges. The daughter of a civil engineer, Bang learned the importance of infrastructure early in life. Bang graduated from the University of Iowa in 2007 with dual degrees in Civil Engineering and Studio Art. In addition to her degrees from Iowa, she has a MS in Civil Engineering from Colorado University Boulder, and an MBA from the University of Oxford. While here at Iowa, she worked as a research assistant at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering and completed an internship in structural engineering. She was very involved in student organizations, and was the president of Engineers for a Sustainable World, and founded Iowa’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders. 

During a study abroad trip to Fiji, Bang saw the impact a well-placed bridge could make. In an interview for the film “Dream Big,” Bang said “One of the communities had recently opened a footbridge development project, and I was able to see firsthand how a simple bridge was transforming their everyday world. People could get to the doctor, to schools, and to markets they could never have reached before. I directly experienced how structures change people’s lives. That’s when I really started taking engineering seriously – it became both a passion and a purpose for me.” The next year, Bang joined Bridges to Prosperity, establishing their University program. In two semesters, she and a team built a bridge in a remote area of Peru.

A 2019 bridge project in Bolivia

Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) was founded in 2001 with the mission to build bridges to connect rural communities to medical, academic, and economic opportunities using bridges that span rivers, valleys, and other geographic obstacles. According to their website, their projects have impacted 1.3 million people. Benefits of these project include, a 12% increase in enrollment in school, an 18% increase in medical visits, and a 30% increase in labor income and 75% increase in farm profits for the community. They have completed projects in Rwanda, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Bolivia. These projects partner with local communities to ensure that these bridges are monitored and maintained regularly.

Avery is now the President and CEO of B2P and has given several public talks, including a TEDTalk at TedWomen 2017.

 

Works Cited

Bang, A. (n.d.). Avery Bang. Hi, I’m Avery. https://www.averybang.com/

Bridges to Prosperity. (n.d.). Bridges to Prosperity: The global leader in rural infrastructure development. https://www.bridgestoprosperity.org/

Dream Big. (2016, December 23). Avery Bang. Dream Big: Engineering Our World. https://dreambigfilm.com/team/avery-bang/

University of Iowa Civil and Environmental Engineering. (2015, December 18). Alumna Avery Bang Honored as One of 15 Inspiring Women CEOs that Impacted The World In 2015 | Civil and Environmental Engineering. https://cee.engineering.uiowa.edu/news/alumna-avery-bang-honored-one-15-inspiring-women-ceos-impacted-world-2015

University of Iowa College of Engineering. (n.d.). Avery L. Bang. College of Engineering – The University of Iowa. https://engineering.uiowa.edu/alumni/awards/honor-wall/distinguished-engineering-alumni-academy-members/avery-l-bang

George Nissen and the Trampoline

George Nissen was born in Blairstown, Iowa in 1914 and moved to Cedar Rapids as a child. It was at the local YMCA that he would learn both tumbling and diving. In 1930, 16 year-old Nissen attended a circus performance where he saw acrobats falling onto safety nets, finishing their descents with somersaults. Nissen considered the opportunities for gymnasts like him using a similar apparatus. Over the next few years, he would create a few prototypes using materials he could find, including iron from the local scrapyard and his own bed. 

Nissen posing on his trampoline

Nissen brought his athletic and academic skills to Iowa City as a student here at the University. He graduated in 1937 with a degree in Business Studies. During his time at school, he was an active member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, a three-time NCAA gymnastics champion, and participated in the annual Dolphin Shows – aquatic showcases that featured divers and acrobatics. Upon graduation, Nissen and two of his friends joined forces as a traveling acrobatic group, utilizing the Nissen’s trampoline as part of their act. The Three Leonardo’s, as they were known, ended their touring when Nissen joined the Navy to fight in World War II. 

Nissen would receive the patent for his “Tumbling Device” on March 6, 1945, for which he would later register the trademark “trampoline,” inspired by “el trampolin,” Spanish for “diving board.” He then got to work using the knowledge from his Business Studies degree to market his invention. Some of his first buyers were the United States Military and NASA, who used it as a tool to train pilots and astronauts to quickly adapt to changing orientations. Working with Scott Carpenter, a pilot who would later become an astronaut, Nissen created a game called “Spaceball.” Check out this short video to see this fun sport that combines elements of volleyball, basketball, tumbling, and other sports. 

Nissen’s first trampoline patent, US 2,370,990

The trampoline’s popularity would soon explode, and soon they were both exercise and play equipment. In the 1960’s, trampoline parks began to spring up, similar to those that have gained popularity in the past few years. However, these quickly gained a reputation for being dangerous, which Nissen blamed on poor training of the users, staff, and owners, and discouraged this kind of use. In 1962 the International Gymnastics Federation recognized trampolining as an official sport, but it wouldn’t be until the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 that it would become an Olympic sport. Nissen, 86, was present to see the sport he had created bounce onto the largest stage imaginable, and was even invited to jump on the Olympic trampoline. 

Nissen passed away in 2010 at the age of 96. He had spent his entire life advocating for his invention and building a company rooted in passion. Today trampolines are as popular as ever, both in the backyard and the gym. 

Works Cited

Covington, A. (2021, July 30). The Bizarre and Utterly American History of Trampolining – the Olympics Most Airborne Sport. Esquire. https://www.esquire.com/sports/a37182930/tokyo-olympics-trampoline-trampolining-history-101/

George Nissen. (n.d.). Lemelson-MIT. https://lemelson.mit.edu/resources/george-nissen

Hevesi, D. (2010, April 13). George Nissen, Father of the Trampoline, Dies at 96. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/us/13nissen.html

Kindy, D. (2020, March 5). How the Trampoline Came to Be. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/how-trampoline-came-be-180974343/

Time Machine: George Nissen, trampoline inventor. (2016, September 10). The Gazette. https://www.thegazette.com/news/time-machine-george-nissen-trampoline-inventor/

University of Iowa. (1937). University of Iowa Hawkeye Yearbook, 1937. Student Publications, Inc.

Snowflake Photography

Snowflakes are tiny works of art, and the science of snowflake photography gives us a unique insight to that world. The man who developed snowflake photography was Wilson Alwyn Bentley, known in his later years as Snowflake Bentley. Born in 1865 in Jericho, Vermont, Bentley’s research of snow and weather patterns started as a teenager, studying snowflakes under a microscope on his parents’ farm. He drew sketch after sketch of his snowflakes, but when he stumbled upon information of microscope photography, he convinced his father, who was practical to a fault, to purchase a camera with the appropriate equipment for his next endeavor. 

Snowflake Bentley photographing snow crystals. He worked quickly in a cold room or outside to keep the snowflakes from melting before he could get the photomicrograph.

It would take Bentley more than a year to find success. The ice crystals would melt quickly, and the photo developing process took a lot of time and effort, especially considering that Bentley was a newcomer to photography. After much trial and error, Bentley had success on February 15, 1885 when he got his first clear image, also known as a photomicrograph. He is quoted as saying “The day that I developed the first negative made by this method, and found it good, I felt almost like falling on my knees beside that apparatus and worshiping it! It was the greatest moment of my life.” Because of his lack of education, Bentley felt his contributions were unworthy of note. Eventually, he met a local professor, who convinced him to submit his first article “A Study of Snow Crystals,” which was published in 1898 in Popular Scientific Monthly.  This opened to floodgates, and soon he was publishing articles and traveling the country to give presentations. 

Even living in snowy New England, he couldn’t work with snowflakes year-round. He eventually expanded his studies to include other precipitation, including rainfall, mist, and dew, but snow remained his passion. In 1931, he published his life’s work Snow Crystals. This book included almost 2,500 photomicrographs of snowflakes. If you’re interested in seeing Bentley’s work, you can see some of his photomicrographs through the Smithsonian’s online collections, or you find a copy of Snow Crystals at the Science Library. Later that year, Bentley caught pneumonia and passed away at home on December 23rd, 1931. 

A photomicrograph taken by Bentley

Bentley created his photomicrographs by capturing the snowflakes on white velvet, then scratching the emulsion off the plate to create the back background. This allowed Bentley to edit out non-symmetrical parts, which contributed to the myth that all snowflakes are completely symmetrical. Our current technology allows for more accurate images of snowflakes. With a willingness to stand outside and a DSLR camera (which you can check out from our tool library), and a macro lens, you too can take your own stunning snowflake photographs! If you follow photographer Craig Goodwin’s advice, the process of snowflake photography hasn’t changed much from Bentley’s time. If you want to read more about Goodwin’s process, you can find his blog post here. If you’re not a photographer, or aren’t interested in sitting outside to catch snowflakes, you can see some great flakes in The Art of the Snowflake: a photograph album by Kenneth Libbrecht, available here at the Engineering Library.  

A snowflake photograph by Kenneth Libbrecht.

 

Works Cited

Goodwin, C. (2019, March 2). How to Photograph Snowflakes (and Blow Your Mind). Craig Goodwin Photography. https://www.craiggoodwin.com/blog/2019/2/21/how-to-photograph-snowflakes

Jericho Historical Society. (n.d.). Snowflake Bentley. Snowflake Bentley. https://snowflakebentley.com/

Jones, P. A. (2017, December 23). Wilson A. Bentley: The Man Who Photographed Snowflakes. Mental Floss. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/89924/wilson-bentley-man-who-photographed-snowflakes

Smithsonian Institution. (2021, December 20). How do you photograph a single snowflake? https://www.si.edu/stories/how-do-you-photograph-single-snowflake

Snow Engineering

Now that we have entered the snowy time in the year, we might as well embrace the snow. Although we may not see snow as a positive thing, there are many cultures that take advantage of its unique properties. The Inuit peoples of North America and Greenland use snow to create igloos, also spelled “iglu.” This form of shelter is also sometimes known as an aputiak. These temporary buildings are built entirely of snow, and are usually used as hunting lodges.

 

Inuit Village, Oopungnewing, near Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island in the Mid-19th century

 

While a structure made out of snow may seem like a chilly prospect, but they Inuit hunters could stay in their igloos for entire winters quite comfortably. Not only does the igloo block cold wind, the densely packed snow acts as an insulator to keep those inside warm. In fact, the longer an igloo is used, the more durable it becomes! As people move around inside the structure, the snow melts but refreezes as temperatures drop, creating thin layers of ice. In fact, a well built igloo can support the weight of an entire person. 

But how are igloos built? The main component needed is packed snow. Most snow that falls from the sky in Iowa isn’t going to be dense enough. If you want the appropriate building material you’ll either have to move north – at least to Northern Minnesota. If you find a snow bank that has been packed by wind, you may be able to cut it out and use it, but you will likely need to put in some extra work to pack snow to make blocks. 

Once you choose how large you would like your structure to be, you can begin building. These blocks should not be completely square, but wedge-shaped. This, combined with building in a spiral allows for a self-supported dome. If your dome is completely semi-circular, not all of the blocks share compressive forces, making it more likely to fall. Instead, build your igloo to be a parabolic or catenary arch, more egg-shaped than the dome on the Old Capitol. If you want all the ins and outs of the project, come in and check out How to Build an Igloo and Other Snow Shelters by Norbert E. Yankielun.

If you don’t think you can make your own igloo from scratch, you don’t have to be completely kept out of the fun. A Canadian company called PlaySnow makes igloo-shaped support structures that can be covered in snow to make a structure that is sturdy and safe from collapse. They are designed for children, so take that into consideration before you purchase one for your wintertime fun, since a too-small igloo is uncomfortable.  

Inuit Village, Oopungnewing, near Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island in the Mid-19th century
A PlaySnow structure

 

Works Cited

Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (n.d.). igloo | dwelling. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/technology/igloo

Hoyt, A. (2021, February 20). How Igloos Work. HowStuffWorks. https://people.howstuffworks.com/igloo.htm

New World Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Igloo. https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Igloo

Santa’s Lapland. (n.d.). Interesting Facts About Igloos | Santa’s Lapland. https://www.santaslapland.com/more-magic/7-interesting-facts-about-igloos/

Yankielun, N. E., & Bauer, A. (2007). How to Build an Igloo: And Other Snow Shelters (Illustrated ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.

Coast into Winter Fun

You’re almost done with the semester, and soon you’ll have time to go outside and enjoy the snow. Have you ever thought about the history of sleds? 

Sled race, anyone?

Sleds have a very long history, helping us to work and play. You may have spent your snow days gliding downhill on a plastic saucer or an innertube style sled. The story of the Flexible Flyer is one of engineering, redesigning, and risk.

The Flexible Flyer

Samuel Leeds Allen loved winter activities. From “coasting” (the term used for downhill sledding in the Victorian  era), to ice skating, it was difficult to keep him inside during the Philadelphia winter. During his childhood, toboggans were the most common version of a sled. Having no runners or brakes, riders had to dig a heel into the snow to turn or stop. He was also a tinkerer from a young age. His mother was quoted as saying “I never saw anyone with such perseverance. He never seemed to give up on an idea.” Allen’s teachers believed him to be lazy because he didn’t engage well with the lessons, preferring experiential learning over rote learning. 

After leaving school, Allen moved to live with a relative on a farm in New Jersey. It was there that he started making improvements to farming implements. Eventually he created his own company, S.L. Allen & Co., which made seeders, hoes, plows, harrows, corn shellers, feed grinders, and lawn mowers, among other things. He worked hard to cultivate relationships with buyers, and utilized advertisements in existing publications as well as creating his own. Allen also thrived because of patents and the protection of intellectual property they provided. 

While enjoying sledding with his daughters, Allen’s mind turned to improving the experience. His daughter remembers having to sled down hills again and again and reporting every thought about the ride. Eventually, he would patent his first sled in 1887 called the “Fairy Coaster.” It was large enough to hold three riders on its padded seat, and was steerable with a braking system. However, at $50, the price point was out of reach for most consumers. It was an absolute failure. 

Patent 408,681, the Flexible Flyer

Allen learned from this episode, and worked to improve his design. In 1889 he would be awarded his second patent, this time known as the Flexible Flyer. Again, it looked like the product would be a failure. For several years, Allen’s sled would again fail to sell significant numbers. It wasn’t until people started getting more free time in the mid 1890’s that they had time to enjoy sledding. By 1910, the Flexible Flyer would become the most popular brand, with distinctive branding and features. You can even get your own Flexible Flyer today! 

Sledding on Sand

Maybe your winter plans include more tropical climates – you can still sled! Did you know that some of the first sleds were used on wet sand? There is evidence that the Ancient Egyptians used sleds to efficiently move large blocks of stone. I’m sure you could also take a snow saucer down a sand dune.

The native peoples of Hawaii also have their own version of sledding, called hee holua, or “sled riding.” 12-foot long wooden sleds are ridden down a kahua holua (sledding course), which is made out of lava-gravel. Riders usually ride the sled lying down face first, standing up, or kneeling. Speeds can reach 50-80 miles per hour! 

Sledding on Flat Land

Sleds are also helpful tools to move across flat snow-covered land, but you’ll need some extra power. Dogsledding is one method, utilizing special breeds of dogs who have strong legs and thick coats. Today most of us are most familiar with the Iditarod, a race between Anchorage to Nome, a distance of 938 miles that typically takes 8 to 15 days. This race commemorates the “Great Race of Mercy,” a rush to get diphtheria antitoxin to an ice-bound Nome in the winter of 1925. The serum was transported by relay, and most of the dogs in the original effort ran an average of 31 miles. 

Balto was the lead dog when his owner Leonhard Seppala delivered the serum to Nome

If you don’t have a team of dogs, you can simply kick yourself to your destination. Resembling dogsleds, kicksleds are found in Northern Europe, and work exactly how you think they would. The user stands on the back, and simply kicks to create forward momentum. They were most popular in the mid-2oth century, but you may see some around if you visit during kicksledding weather. Because the runners are very narrow (think ice-skates), they work best on ice or very hard snow.

This model looks like she’s getting some real speed using her kicksled.

What do you think now? Will you be sledding this winter? Share your tips and tricks with us below!

 

Works Referenced:

Bisno, A. (2021, December). The sled that steers. United States Patent and Trademark Office. https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/journeys-innovation/historical-stories/sled-steers

Green, A. (2013, December 24). A Brief History of the Sled. Popular Mechanics. https://www.popularmechanics.com/adventure/sports/g1377/a-brief-history-of-the-sled/

Leonard, D. (2020, December 10). The history of sledding. Grunge.Com. https://www.grunge.com/293350/the-history-of-sledding/

McCarthy, E. (2012, December 28). 25 Things You Might Not Know About Sledding. Mental Floss. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/32044/25-things-you-might-not-know-about-sledding

Meredith, D. (2016, January 12). Dogsledding. The Canadian Encyclopedia. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/dog-sledding

Murray, M. M. (2021, January 5). Holua sledding, the death-defying sport of Hawaiian chiefs. Hawaii Magazine. https://www.hawaiimagazine.com/holua-sledding-the-death-defying-sport-of-hawaiian-chiefs/

A short history of the kick sled. (2010, February 1). The Accidental Hermit. https://theaccidentalhermit.blogspot.com/2010/02/short-history-of-kick-sled.html

Tribou, D. (2013, January 5). Flexible Flyer: A Sledding Tradition Continues | Only A Game. WBUR.Org. https://www.wbur.org/onlyagame/2013/01/05/flexible-flyer-sled-history

Happy Native American Heritage Month!

November is Native American Heritage Month, so let’s celebrate some Native American Engineers!

Ely S. Parker (1828-1895)

Ely S. Parker (1828-1895) – Seneca, Civil and Military Engineer

Born in 1828 on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation, Ely S. Parker lived up to his Seneca name of Do-ne-ho-ga-wa, which means “Open Door.” When doors were closed to him because of his background, he found ways to open them. After unsuccessfully lobbying for the rights of his people to stay on their reservation, Parker began to study law in the hopes of advocating for the Seneca. However, when he applied for admission to the bar, he was denied because he was Seneca, and was therefore not considered a citizen in the eyes of New York State law (a law that would stand until the Indian Citizenship Act was passed in 1924). 

Never one to wait for an opportunity, Parker began to study civil engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. This gave him the skills to work on maintenance work for the Erie Canal, and eventually move to Galena, IL to work for the Treasury Department building a custom house and marine hospital. It was there that he became friends with Ulysses S. Grant. When the Civil War began, Parker gathered a group of Iroquois volunteers for the Union, but they were turned away by the Governor of New York, Edwin Morgan. Parker then attempted to enlist by himself as an engineer, but was again denied because of his race. Finally, Parker reached out to his friend Grant, who brought Parker onto his staff in 1963. He would go on to make major contributions at several battles, including Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Petersburg, and would help in drafting the surrender documents at the Appomattox Court House in 1965. 

After his military service, Parker became the first Native American to hold the office of Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1869 to 1871. He would eventually return to engineering with a position in the New York City Police Department, where he served until 1895.

Mary Golda Ross (1908-2008)

Mary Golda Ross (1908-2008) – Cherokee, Aerospace Engineer

Mary Golda Ross was born in 1908 and grew up in Park Hill, OK. A member of the Cherokee Nation, Ross grew up in a tradition that prized equal education for both boys and girls. Because of this, she was not intimidated by her surroundings when she entered male-dominated fields. She started college at the age of 16 at Northeastern State Teacher’s College in Tahlequah, OK where she studied mathematics. Following graduation, she would spend several years teaching math and science in rural Oklahoma, using her summers to attend classes at Colorado State College of Teaching where she was earned a master’s degree in mathematics in 1938.

In 1942 she was hired at Lockheed Aircraft Corporation as a computer where she completed complicated mathematical equations using only a pencil, paper, and slide rule, and was assigned to the team that designed the P-38 Lightning. After the war, many of the female computers were laid off and returned to their traditional roles. Ross had drawn special attention for her ambition and abilities, and as a result was kept on and began to take courses at the UCLA to earn her professional certification in engineering. This course included classes in math, engineering, and aeronautics. During peacetime, the Advanced Development Projects team with whom Ross worked, turned to loftier goals. Also known as Skunk Works, many of this team’s projects are classified even today. Ross was a founding engineer of this team, as well as the only woman besides the team’s secretary, and the only Native American. It is known that during this time Ross worked on the Space Race, developing preliminary requirements for spacecraft, which laid the groundwork for the Apollo program. While Ross always had a fascination with space and was an advocate for female astronauts she had little interest in being one herself. She said “I’d rather stay down here and analyze the data.” 

Ross retired from Lockheed at the age of 65, but would work for many years to encourage women and Native Americans to enter STEM fields. In 2004 she was honored at the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, which she attended wearing a traditional Cherokee dress that was made for her by her niece. She died in 2008, just three months shy of her 100th birthday.

Do you know some Native American engineers you think need some recognition? Drop them in the comments below!

 

Works Cited

 

Historical Society of the New York Courts. (2019, January 24). Ely S. Parker. https://history.nycourts.gov/figure/ely-parker/

Smith, Y. (2019, November 12). Mary Ross: A Hidden Figure. NASA. https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/mary-ross-a-hidden-figure/

Vergun, D. (2021, November 19). Engineer became highest ranking Native American in Union Army. Www.Army.Mil. https://www.army.mil/article/252126/engineer_became_highest_ranking_native_american_in_union_army

Viola, H. (2018). Mary Golda Ross: She Reached for the Stars. NMAI Magazine. https://www.americanindianmagazine.org/story/mary-golda-ross-she-reached-stars

Wallace, R. (2021, November 19). Mary Golda Ross and the Skunk Works. The National WWII Museum | New Orleans. https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/mary-golda-ross-and-skunk-works

Watson, D. (n.d.). Biography of Ely S. Parker – Galena History Museum. Galena & U.S. Grant Museum. https://www.galenahistory.org/research/bio-sketches-of-famous-galenians/biography-of-ely-s-parker/

New Interlibrary Loan Interface Goes Live!

Have you ever used interlibrary loan? If you haven’t, now is a great time to check it out! A new interface has been launched making it even easier for you to request the items you need. First, visit the website of any University of Iowa library, this can be your branch library (like Engineering) or Main Library. At the top, hover over “My Library” and select “My Interlibrary Loan.” Click the button that says “Log in to Interlibrary Loan & Document Delivery” and enter your Hawk ID. You are now ready to request any book, chapter, article, or other material you need. This updated interface removes any additional clicking or typing, so you can make your request or check in on any existing ones and move on with your day. Try it out for yourself and if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Interlibrary Loan Office at 319-335-5917 or lib-ill@uiowa.edu 

New and Improved Interlibrary Loan Interface!