Mary Ellen (Rathbun) Kolb

After attending Bradford Junior College in Haverhill, Massachusetts, Mary Ellen Kolb responded to an advertisement in the Troy Record announcing that, due to the looming start of WWII, Rensselaer would be accepting a limited number of applications from qualified women to be admitted to the accelerated (three 16-week terms) degree programs. Kolb entered RPI the first week the advertisement was published, matriculating as the first female in metallurgical engineering at RPI.

She lived at Russell Sage College (a nearby all-female school), and when they weren't in session, Kolb lived wherever she could, including with her eye doctor's secretary for a time, climbing the Approach each day for class. She graduated in 1945, with one other female student, Lois Graham, and worked briefly for the Chrysler Corporation’s Engineering Division.

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