RENCI People with Billie Richardson

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Watch entire video or click on any question below:

Q: You were a chemical/biomedical engineer and a research professor during a time when there were very few women in the field. What led you to pursue this career?

Q: Was there any person that helped you to reach your goals? Any mentors you want to acknowledge?

Q: Before coming to NC State in 1951, you held several chemist positions in private industry. What led you to NC State?

Q: What are your fondest memories of NC State?

Q: You specialized in several engineering areas such as chemistry, physics, agricultural, nuclear and biomedical engineering where there are still few women today. Why do you think the number for women in these fields are low and is diversity in these fields important?

Q: In addition to your academic and research activities, you served as a mentor and founder of the NCSU Society of Women Engineers. What advice do you have for young women interested in careers in engineering?

Q: Could you describe how you and Billie came to know one another and the first project you worked on as a team?


Frances M. (Billie) Richardson, professor emeritus of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State University, received a B.S. in chemistry from Roanoke College in 1943 and an M.S. in chemistry from the University of Cincinnati in 1947. From 1943 to 1949 she held several chemist positions. From 1951 to 1980, she held positions as research associate and then research associate professor in NC State University’s department of engineering research. She was the first woman faculty member of the College of Engineering and the first tenured female faculty member. Richardson founded and served as the first president of the North Carolina Society of Women Engineers. She was also a mentor to many of its members. From 1980 to 1983 she was associate director of NC State University’s engineering operations program. After working in the dean’s office of the College of Engineering, in 1990 she joined the faculty of the NC State department of biological and agricultural engineering as a professor. With her background in chemistry, Richardson held numerous research and teaching positions in several engineering specialties related to chemistry, physics, nuclear engineering and biomedical engineering. She won national recognition for her contributions to the field of rheology, the science of the flow of materials. She is now an active retiree living in Raleigh.