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Thomas, Orpha Mae, 1905 or 1906-1954



  • Existence: 1905 or 1906 - 1954

Biographical Information

Thomas was the first woman to earn a PhD in Engineering from Purdue University. She graduated in 1946 with a PhD in Industrial Engineering. Her thesis was titled, "A Scientific Basis for the Design of Institutional Kitchens." Aside from being the first woman to earn a PhD in Purdue's School of Engineering, Thomas was also the third person to receive a PhD in Industrial Engineering. With Purdue's own Lillian Gilbreth and Eleanor Clymer, Thomas would go on to publish numerous books on management, including Management in the Home: Happier Living Through Saving Time and Energy and Scientific Management in the Home: The Empress's New Clothes. Thomas eventually became a professor at Columbia University's Teacher's College. She espoused the view that "every household should be organized on an assembly line plan."