CEE's third woman undergraduate: Connie Minnich

Connie HauserWhen it came time to decide which university to attend, Consuelo Hauser (known to her classmates as Connie Minnich) listened to her father. A civil engineer for Montgomery County, Penn., who sometimes let Connie accompany him on his surveying work, Hauser’s father recommended the University of Illinois because he used and liked a design book by two members of the civil engineering faculty: Thomas C. Shedd and Jamison Vawter. She took his advice and thus became the third woman student to join the civil engineering department.

At the time she came to Illinois, only one other woman was studying civil engineering. According to her husband, Ray Hauser, the challenge of being one of only two women in the department didn’t faze her.

“Connie wasn’t afraid of challenges and fit in well at Illinois,” Ray Hauser said. “She was befriended quickly by Barbara Schmidt, an upperclassman in CE and was introduced to the Illinois Technograph staff in her first semester.”

With slide rule in hand, Hauser poses for the camera in the Technograph office.Hauser spent four years on the staff of the Technograph, eventually rising to Editor during her final years. She was active in other activities as well: she was chair of the parade committee for Engineering Open House in 1950, and helped start the Illinois chapter of Knights of St. Patrick. Hauser was also the first woman inducted into Chi Epsilon.

Upon receiving her Bachelor of Science degree, Connie and Ray Hauser attended Yale for their graduate studies, and Connie Hauser became the first woman to earn a Masters of Engineering at Yale. They next moved to Colorado, and Connie Hauser went on to complete the coursework for a doctorate in civil engineering at the University of Colorado. Family obligations prevented her from completing her thesis for the design of hyperbolic paraboloid thin-shell structures (as Ray pointed out, “nigh impossible with slide rule calculations”).

As a professional, Hauser worked on hydraulics and drainage projects, design and specifications of sandwich panel structures, design of missile ground support facilities, and sanitary systems at various companies in Connecticut and Colorado. She became a Fellow of the Society of Women Engineers, was the first woman on the Civil Engineering Alumni Association Board, and raised four children (two of whom are engineers with Ball Aerospace Corp. in Boulder, Colo.)

As the only woman in the ASCE club in 1949, Hauser stands out in the second row.