Dr Maria Telkes aka ‘Sun Queen
Dr Telkes was born at the dawn of the 20th century in the Hungarian city of Budapest. Google, giving details on her doodle, mentions that on this day, she was the first to be awarded ‘the Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award’ in 1952.
Who was Dr Maria Telkes – ‘The Sun Queen’
1) Dr Telkes was born at the dawn of the 20th century in the Hungarian city of Budapest. Google, giving details on her doodle, mentions that on this day – December 11 – she was the first to be awarded ‘the Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award’ in 1952. The SWE award is an honourable recognition bestowed upon women who contribute to the field of engineering.
2) On the academic front, Dr Telkes studied physical chemistry at the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest and graduated with a B.A. in 1920. She finished her PhD in the year 1924 and moved to the United States the following year to become a biophysicist.
3) She became a US citizen in 1937 and was a part of the Solar Energy Committee at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Recognised for her work, she was also invited by the U.S. government to develop a solar distiller that converted seawater into fresh water. This groundbreaking invention was then used by soldiers in the Pacific war.
4) After the war, she worked at the MIT as an associate research professor and was also involved in creating habitable solar-heated homes with a team of colleagues but was removed from it after developing a design that failed. Dr Telkes was able to secure private funding for her project in 1948 and used it to create the Dover Sun House in partnership with architect Eleanor Raymond. The project’s success was widely acknowledged and popularised the term “solar energy”. She holds over 20 patents and worked as a consultant for many energy companies.
5) Dr Maria Telkes, apart from many innovations, is also known for creating a solar oven design, used to date. The project was commissioned by the well-known Ford Foundation and is a reminder why she is remembered as the “Sun Queen”.