• Texas’ first female licensed engineer was a Baylor Bear

    Leah Moncure at her engineering desk

    A century ago, the first woman in Texas to become a licensed professional engineer was getting her start right here at Baylor.

    Leah Moncure (BA ’25), came to Baylor from Bastrop (east of Austin) alongside her twin sister, Grace. The daughter and granddaughter of a country surveyor, Leah had always been good with math, and took an early interest in her father’s surveying instruments. After graduating from Baylor as a double major in math and education, Moncure went to teach math in Houston for a year — but she was determined to get into engineering.

    A three-year contract with Howe & Wise, an engineering firm in Houston, gave Moncure experience doing drafting and eventually design. With that experience, she was accepted at the University of Texas, where she earned a civil engineering degree in 1937. The next year — in April 1938 — she became Texas’ first female licensed professional engineer.

    Moncure then went to work with the Texas Highway Department (today known as TxDOT), where she would spend the next 30 years. Her work took her all over the state, including stops in Houston, Beaumont, Lufkin and Galveston. In 1945, she transferred to Austin as an engineer with the Highway Design Division. Among her projects? Harris County’s plans for Highway 38 — now known as State Highway 6, a route countless Bears have taken between Houston and Waco over the years.

    Moncure was not only the state’s first female licensed engineer; she was also the state’s only female engineer for almost 15 years. She was TxDOT’s first female engineer, and the first female National Society of Professional Engineers life member.

    As a pioneer, it was important to Moncure to share her experiences with others. Later in her career, she wrote a series of articles for the Austin American-Statesman in hopes other women would find interest in civil engineering. Moncure retired in 1964, and passed away on January 17, 1972.

    In February 2021, the Texas Historical Commission approved an official Texas historical marker for Moncure, to be placed in front of her home in Bastrop.

    Sic ’em, Leah Moncure!

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