Constance Tipper
Constance Tipper

In this series, we will be celebrating the anniversaries of a selection of people who made important contributions to engineering.

This month marks 120 years since the birth of Constance Tipper.

Constance Tipper was a metallurgist and crystallographer, and one of the first women to take the Natural Sciences Tripos at Newnham College, Cambridge. From 1949-1960 she was the only female full member of the Engineering Department in Cambridge.

Tipper is perhaps most well known for her important investigations into brittle fracture in the hulls of Liberty Cargo ships – which transported vital supplies from the USA during WWII. The hulls of the ships kept on fracturing, and losing these supplies at sea. Tipper worked out that it was the cold temperature of the ocean water which caused the hulls to break – and so the ships were rebuilt and the vital supplies were delivered safely. During this time she developed the Tipper Test for investigating the brittleness of steel – a test which is still used to this day.

She even has a variegated sweet chestnut tree named after her, which is now known as the Tipper Tree.

Archive, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

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