Beatrice A. Hicks broke new ground for women as an engineer, inventor and engineering executive, expanding the advancement and recognition of women engineers in an era when less than 1% of the engineers employed in the United States were women. She strove to open the doors of engineering education closed to women prior to 1970.
At age 13, inspired by the Empire State Building and the George Washington Bridge, she told her engineer father that she, too, would become an engineer. She earned degrees in chemical engineering, electrical engineering and physics, was the first woman engineer employed by Western Electric Company, pioneered in the theoretical study, analysis, development and manufacture of sensing devices, patented a molecular density scanner, and developed an industry model for quality control procedures. In 1955, she became president of the firm founded by her father, Newark Controls, Inc., which designed and manufactured environmental sensing equipment, much of which was used in the space program.
In 1950, she was chosen as the first president of the newly organized Society of Women Engineers, which then consisted of 60 members. Hicks received several honorary degrees and in 2013 was recognized by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame with the Advancement of Invention Award.