Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau

Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau

Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau

Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau (27 October 1910 - 12 January 2000) was a chemical engineer who designed the first commercial penicillin production plant.[1] She was also the first female member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.[2]


  • Life 1
  • Career 2
  • Honours and Other Activities 3
  • References 4
  • Images 5


Margaret Hutchinson was born in 1910 in Houston, Texas, the daughter of a clothing store owner, and married William C. Rousseau, a co-worker, who was later a chemical engineering lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They had one son. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Rice Institute in 1932 and her Doctor of Science degree in chemical engineering from MIT in 1937, the first woman to earn a doctorate in the subject in the USA. She died 12 January 2000 at her home in Weston, Massachusetts.[3]


She started her professional career with E. B. Badger (where she met her husband to be) and during the Second World War she oversaw the design of production plants for the stragically important materials of penicillin and synthetic rubber.[4] She also worked on the development of high-octane gasoline for aviation fuel.[1] Her later work included improved distillation column design and plants for the production of ethylene glycol and glacial acetic acid.[4]

Honours and Other Activities

In 1955 she received the Achievement Award of the Society of Women Engineers.[5]

She retired in 1961 and became an overseer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.[5]

In 1983 she was the first recipient of the prestigious Founders Award of the AIChE.[2]


  1. ^ a b Chemical Heritage Manufacturing a Cure: Mass Producing Penicillin
  2. ^ a b AIChE Centennial Celebrations Milestones
  3. ^ MIT Women's Association The 1920s and 1930s
  4. ^ a b Changing Our World: True Stories of Women EngineersSybyl E. Hatch Chapter 12
  5. ^ a b news Feb 2000 In Memoriam


  • Walter Reuther Library Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau, Portrait (1955)
  • Walter Reuther Library Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau, Portrait (1961)