How Women Changed the HVAC Industry

women in HVACWomen in HVAC history played important roles in the comfortable and healthy indoor environment we take for granted today. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning became an established engineering science around the turn of the 20th century.  Several women with the scientific aptitude—as well as determination—turned their talents to this dawning field.

Here are two women in HVAC history who broke new ground and overcame old barriers:

Margaret Ingels

Margaret Ingels was the first woman in the U.S. to receive a professional mechanical engineering degree. Ingels joined the Carrier Engineering Corporation in Pittsburgh in 1917.  Founded by Willis Carrier, who patented the first air conditioner in 1902, Ingels’ work at Carrier provided a direction for her engineering talents and eventually led to a position at the American Society of Heating and Ventilation Engineers where she conducted pioneering air conditioning research for six years.

Ingels developed a device to accurately measure the level of dust and other toxic airborne particulates in schools and public places for a New York state study on indoor air quality and ventilation.  Returning to Carrier in the 1930s, she invented the sling psychrometer that precisely measured indoor relative humidity, a critical parameter of the air conditioning process.

Alice H. Parker

Alice H. Parker is credited with the first practical utilization of a gas-fired furnace for residential central heating. In the first decade of the 20th century,  many homes were still heated by burning wood or coal. Parker believed natural gas piped into houses was preferable to burning solid materials. Also safer, because it eliminated the need to keep a fireplace flaming overnight.

Parker received a patent in 1919 for a gas-fired furnace that inducted cool outdoor air into a central heat exchanger, then conveyed heat throughout  ductwork to warm the entire house. Her concept included multiple gas burners to vary temperatures in different areas. That aspect of Parker’s visionary design was the first version of what is today known as a zoning system, widely utilized in residential HVAC installation.

Serving Terre Haute since 1922, Paitson Bros. salutes the women in HVAC history whose great strides helped advance the technology of our industry.

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    Jeff Paitson Jeff Paitson is a third generation business owner who continues to run the business with the same values that have been passed down from previous generations since 1922.

    Jeff’s belief is that the business belongs to Jesus Christ; therefore 10 percent of the company’s profits go toward the Maryland Community Church.

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    Ethan Ethan Rayburn is a lifelong resident of Terre Haute and a 2005 graduate of Purdue University.

    An Eagle Scout, Ethan spent four years as a non-profit executive with the Boy Scouts of America before joining Paitson Bros. as a comfort advisor and later General Manager. In that role, Ethan has brought a renewed enthusiasm for customer care, integrity, value, and service to Paitson Bros. Heating & Air Conditioning.

    Ethan enjoys singing and was a member of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club. He also enjoys playing and coaching soccer, spending time with his family and two young boys, and volunteering his time and resources with his church, Terre Haute First Baptist Church, which he has attended from a very young age.
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