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In memoriam: remembering admired professor and mentor Margaret Drake

The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering celebrates the life and contributions of Professor Margaret Drake. Known as an ever-curious trailblazer, Drake was a respected educator and a shining example for other women entering the field of engineering. She passed away on October 4, 2018.

Margaret DrakeMargaret DrakeDrake graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee, where her family reports she was the first female engineering graduate. After continuing her studies to receive her master’s degree, she began her career teaching at J. Sargent Reynolds Community College, Richmond, VA and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Then, with a doctoral degree from the University of Kansas, Drake’s next career move in 1979 brought her to The Ohio State University. Here she became an admired professor and a beloved mentor.

Vish Subramaniam, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, recalls Drake’s influence in the department. “I remember Margaret very well,” he said.

“When I was a young and newly-hired assistant professor 30 years ago, she kindly and graciously shared her notes for undergraduate classes in turbomachinery and heat transfer for non-majors. We always exchanged best—and even worst—practices in teaching undergraduate classes. She had a passion for teaching and for meeting the learning outcomes of her students”

For nearly two decades she taught thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, heat exchangers and design at Ohio State. Her service to the university concluded in 2006, yet she continued her passion for sharing knowledge.

Drake’s combined love of teaching and travel led her to teach internationally, delivering lectures in Malaysia several times, through a program with Purdue University. During retirement she also traveled extensively with People to People to understand heating and engineering challenges in different parts of the world. She further used her expertise to consult on geothermal heat pump design and installation.

Drake served as president of the Columbus, OH chapter of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for several years and was the first woman member of the Richmond, VA chapter, according to her family.

“I had the utmost respect and admiration for Margaret,” concluded Subramaniam. “Especially in being a top-notch engineer and member of our male-dominated faculty.  She held her own and taught me and others a great deal.”