When Katharine was a teenager working at a local airport in Raleigh, NC, Amelia Earhart came through on a barnstorming trip in an autogyro. Katharine met her at that time, and she suggested that Katharine further her education to become an aeronautical engineer instead of just a pilot.
As SWE President, Katharine’s most important goal was to maintain close relationships among the sections, second only to the critical search for publicity. In those early years, society’s objectives had to be broadcast as widely as possible to increase awareness of engineering as a career open to women. Although SWE was small at the time, it was a national organization with sections coast-to-coast. The core of dedicated members sought this publicity individually and collectively and provided a foundation for the Society today.
After years of service to SWE, Katharine became very active in Soroptimist International, wherein 1970 she became President and served for two years during the Fiftieth Anniversary: biennium. Soroptimist is the world’s largest classified service club for women. During the first year of her presidency, when most service clubs were experiencing a decline, her “Lead to Action” program resulted in 25 new clubs and an increase of 2,000 new members.
She established the Katharine Stinson Scholarship for Women Engineers (administered by SWE and North Carolina State University).
- BME, 1941, North Carolina State University
- Fellow Life Member of SWE
- Joined SWE: 1950
- Career: Aeronautical Engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, DC for 32 years