Judy May

Honored by:LeVern Faidley
Brick location:PAVER:42  map

Judy Risdall May was the fourth Iowa Alpha recipient of the Tau Beta Pi Woman's Badge, graduating from Iowa State with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in estimator for Columbia-Southern Chemical Corp, a division of Pittsburg Plate Glass Company. She was the first woman to work in their pilot plant, before being "allowed" to work where she had to obtain special dispensation from the company.

After three years in Texas, she was hired by Douglas Aircraft Company (later part of McDonnell-Douglas and now Boeing) and moved to Santa Monica, California to work in their plasma jet testing facility, where the ablative properties of materials used to build the aircraft were determined. After a layoff, she was hired by IBM as a Systems Engineer and trained in programming, wiring boards for their business equipment, and acting as a bridge between IBM and engineers at the North American Aviation facilities in Southern California. Having had no prior computer exposure, she credited her engineering education at Iowa State and her training at IBM with her success in performing these new responsibilities.

In 1964, she married Roger May, an electricla engineer from the University of Michigan, whom she had met while working at Douglas Aircraft. At that time, California state law would not allow women to work after the 7 month of pregnancy. Therefore, she was forced to end her employment at IBM when she and her husband were expecting their first child and she became a stay-at-home for the next 17 years, raising a family of 2 girls and a boy. During this time, she volunteered at her children's school, setting up and teaching various scientific programs and classes and was president of the P.T.A. In 1976 she received the California Honorary Service Award for the contributions she had made to her children's school.

In 1981, at the age of 45, she re-entered the work force being hired by the Hughes Space and Communications Company as a material and process engineer, with a strong emphasis on thermal passive control materials and processess. In 1986, she recieved the NASA Certificate of Recognition for the creative development of a material for the radar and comunications sub-system for the Space Shuttle. This was followed in 1990 by the Top Cost Improvement Award at Hughes Space and Communications Company (over $9 million dollars in savings in the thermal blanket material and production area); presented to her by the president of the company at a special celebration. In 1997, she was awarded a U.S. Patent for a "Passive Intermodulation Shield" material for the antenna area of spacecraft.

Judy May and her husband retired from Hughes Space and Communications Company on the same day in 1998 and they currently enjoy spending time with their grandchildren.

Paver Inscription:

"Iowa Alpha Chapter of Tau Beta Pi
Women's Badge Recipients:
Eloise Zimmerman '46 Arch E
Mary Hurd '47 Civil E
Jane Templeman '53 Arch
Judy May '58 Chem E
Karen Gray '60 Chem E
Idelle Peterson '60 Chem E
Beverly Audeh '61 Aero E
Mardith Baenziger '68 Arch E"