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Published on: Monday, July 8, 2024 read more ...

Science, Technology & Engineering 


William J. Hammer, U.S. Army (1858-1934) — During World War I, the U.S. Army drafted engineer and inventor William J. Hammer, at age 60, to head the Inventions Section of the War Plans Division. As victory on the battlefield increasingly depended upon modern industrial technologies, the skills and expertise of scientists like Major Hammer became crucial military assets. Starting his career as an assistant to Thomas Edison, Hammer became chief engineer of the Edison Lamp Works. During the 1880s, Hammer oversaw Edison's spectacular world's fair exhibitions, which introduced millions of Americans and Europeans to the wonders of electricity; he is credited with creating the world's first electrified sign, featured at the 1882 Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. He also patented numerous inventions and worked with other leading inventors and scientists — including the Wright brothers and Marie Curie — on innovations in electrical devices, aviation and the use of radium. For his World War I service, Hammer received medals from the U.S. and French governments. (Section 6, Grave 9644-NH)

Grace Hopper, U.S. Navy (1906–1992) — Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was a mathematician and a pioneer in computer science. At a time when few women pursued science or engineering degrees, Hopper earned her Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University in 1934. She was a professor of mathematics at Vassar College (her undergraduate alma mater) until 1943, when she joined the U.S. Naval Reserve (Women's Reserve). After graduating from midshipman's school, she was commissioned as a lieutenant junior grade. Assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University, Hopper worked on Mark I, the first large-scale fully automatic calculator (a precursor of the computer). After the war, she remained at the Harvard Computation Lab for four years as a research fellow. In 1949, Hopper joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, where she helped to develop the UNIVAC I, the first general-purpose electronic computer. She retired from the Naval Reserve in late 1966, but was recalled to active duty less than a year later, in August 1967. From 1967 to 1977, she directed the Navy Programming Languages Group in the Navy's Office of Information System Planning. When Rear Adm. Hopper retired from the Navy in 1986 at the age of 79, she was the oldest commissioned naval officer on active duty. (Section 59, Grave 973)

Pierre Charles L'Enfant, U.S. Army (1754-1825) — Pierre Charles L'Enfant was an architect, engineer and city planner who, most famously, designed the plan for Washington, D.C. Born in Paris, France in 1754, L'Enfant studied at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, but left in order to join the American Revolution, serving first with the French Colonial Troops and then as an officer in the Continental Army Corps of Engineers.  Following the Revolutionary War, he established his reputation as an architect with major commissions in Philadelphia and New York, and in 1791 President George Washington appointed him to design the "federal city" that would be the new nation's capital. The "L'Enfant Plan" (whose original copy resides at the Library of Congress) envisioned Washington, D.C. as a four-quadrant grid, with north-south and east-west streets crossed by grand diagonal avenues. Despite his later renown, L'Enfant died in poverty, and he was originally buried at a friend's farm in Prince George's County, Maryland. In 1909, at the urging of U.S. and French officials, Major L'Enfant's remains were exhumed and reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery. A monument erected in 1911 marks his resting place, on a hill overlooking the city that he designed. (Section 2, Grave S-3)

Montgomery C. Meigs, U.S. Army (1816-1892) — As quartermaster general of the Army during the Civil War, Meigs directed the establishment of Arlington National Cemetery. A West Point graduate and engineer, he served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, supervising several important prewar projects in Washington, D.C. — including the Washington Aqueduct and the construction of the wings and dome of the U.S. Capitol. In May 1861, shortly after the Civil War began, Meigs was appointed to quartermaster general, charged with managing Army logistics. In this capacity, he oversaw military burials, and in May 1864 he designated part of Robert E. Lee and Mary Custis Lee's former estate, now occupied by Union troops, as an Army cemetery. His wife, Louisa Meigs, was the first person to be buried, in 1879, in the family's plot off of Meigs Drive; Montgomery Meigs joined her in January 1892, following a full military honors funeral at the cemetery he had helped to create. (Section 1, Grave 1-EH)  

Hyman G. Rickover, U.S. Navy (1900–1986) — Known as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy," Rickover led the Navy's Naval Reactors division from 1949 to 1982, overseeing development of the nation's first nuclear submarines. Born in Poland, then part of the Russian Empire, Rickover's family emigrated to the United States when he was a child, as Jewish refugees from Russian pogroms. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served 63 years of active duty. Rickover is one of only four people to have received two Congressional Gold Medals for exceptional public service. (Section 5, Grave 7000)

George Westinghouse, U.S. Army (1846-1914) — At the beginning of the Civil War, fifteen-year-old George Westinghouse enlisted in the New York National Guard. He joined the U.S. Army in 1863 and reached the rank of corporal, but resigned to join the Navy, serving as acting third assistant engineer on the gunboat USS Muscoota. Though he never graduated from college, Westinghouse had a natural talent for engineering and invention. He received his first patent, for a rotary steam engine, at age 19. Three years later, in 1869, he invented an air brake for locomotives, which became a new safety standard for the rapidly expanding U.S. railroad system. The Westinghouse Electric Company, incorporated in 1886, grew into one of the most powerful technology corporations in late nineteenth-century America. Westinghouse's alternating current (AC) generators became standard in the United States, replacing direct current (DC). Even as a captain of industry, Westinghouse continued inventing, and he died in 1914 with over 360 patents to his name. (Section 2, Grave 3418)

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