Founding SWE member, attended historic Camp Green meeting
Mildred H. Paret, P.E., graduated with a B.S. in civil engineering from The Cooper Union in 1948. She launched her career as a highway designer with Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Hall and MacDonald, where she was employed at the time of SWE’s founding in 1950. After several years there, she left the firm, moved into airport design, and began the process of becoming a licensed professional engineer.
She served the New York Section in a variety of leadership roles, including vice chairman and chairman, and on the national level as a section director on the board of directors in the late 1950s. She also participated in many professional panels and outreach events with SWE and other engineering organizations. After achieving her P.E. license, she was appointed by the New York State Society of Professional Engineers to serve on the engineer-in-training committee, responsible for revising the P.E. exam.
The March 1956 SWE Newsletter reported that Paret was one of a group of women engineers included in a front-page story in the Jan. 26, 1956 issue of The Wall Street Journal. Accordingly, the article, “Sliderule Sisterhood Plots (Road) Curves, Tests (Plane) Flutter,” discussed the work of women engineers Rose Lund, Mildred Paret, Katherine Stinson (who was SWE’s third president), Mrs. Bruce O. Buckland, and Patricia Loth.
Paret attended the first International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES I), which SWE organized and held in New York during the 1964 World’s Fair.
She took time off from work to care for her family but by the late 1960s resumed employment with Bell Telephone Laboratories. Based on her responsibilities there, plus previous experience and education, she became a SWE senior member in 1972. Her work at Bell Labs involved structural designs that met static and vehicular loads, and satisfied various local and state standards, among other responsibilities.
Paret was one of the presenters at the 1976 Society of Women Engineers Upward Mobility Conference in Easton, Maryland — which provided training and inspiration for a new generation of women engineers. The conference was significant on several fronts. It took place over a five-day period and was held in concert with the Engineering Foundation with the support of more than a dozen cooperating engineering organizations. U.S. President Gerald R. Ford sent a congratulatory message to the conference, praising women’s contributions.
SWE recently learned of Paret’s death, at age 91, in 2019.
Anne Perusek, SWE Director of Editorial and Publications
Sources: SWE Archives, personal correspondence