One of the first pioneers of solar energy, Dr. Mária Telkes, is honored in today’s Doodle for her life and innovative work. She was correct in her belief that the sun’s power could alter human lives! On this day in 1952, Dr. Telkes was the first person to receive The Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award.
Dr. Telkes was brought into the world in Budapest, Hungary in 1900 and concentrated on actual science at the Eötvös Loránd College of Budapest. In 1920, she received her B.A., and in 1924, she received her PhD. She moved to the United States the following year and accepted a biophysicist position there. She became a U.S. citizen in 1937.
As a member of the Solar Energy Committee, Dr. Telkes furthered her career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She was asked by the United States government to help develop a solar distiller that turned seawater into fresh water during World War II. Soldiers in the Pacific theater made use of this life-saving invention.
Dr. Telkes returned to MIT as an associate research professor following the war. She and her colleagues at MIT were tasked with designing homes that could be lived in and heated by the sun. She proposed and developed a design that was unsuccessful, and she was removed from the committee for her persistence.
She collaborated with Eleanor Raymond, an architect, to construct the Dover Sun House in 1948 after securing private funding from philanthropists. The women’s solar-heated home was a big hit, and the public became familiar with the term “solar energy” as a result.
The inspiring career of Dr. Telkes was marked by innovation and success. She designed a solar oven that is still in use today after receiving a commission from the Ford Foundation. She likewise helped research sun based energy at lofty organizations like NYU, Princeton College, and the College of Delaware. Dr. Telkes procured in excess of 20 licenses and filled in as a specialist for the vast majority energy organizations. She is known as The Sun Queen, which is not surprising.
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