Queen’s Engineering remembers Nancy Scarth, BSc’49, who passed away October 1 at the age of 93. Scarth was among the alumni award recipients upon the Faculty’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

Nancy (Moffat) Scarth was the first female Engineering graduate to complete all four years at Queen’s. At the age of 16 she began her education here in 1945 and graduated from Engineering Physics. She remained committed to the Faculty, returning to speak at various events focused on women in engineering and being actively involved in organizing all class reunions since her graduation.

Nancy Scarth

“I was one of two women in my class,” she said at the time of the Faculty’s 125th anniversary events in 2019, “and I dared to ask a question. Professor Harkness, who later become one of my favourite professors, was very displeased with my question… My colleagues, mostly mature veterans, gave me a vote of support. After I proved to Harkness that I was a capable student, he went out of his way to help me. The other female student never returned to classes.”

Heidi Ploeg, the Chair for Women in Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, offered her condolence as well as this recognition of Scarth’s significance to all women in engineering at Queen’s.

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Nancy Scarth, BSc’ 49. I send my condolences to her family. I would like them to know that I have so much respect for her and am grateful to her for being a true trailblazer. Nancy Scarth began a new era when she graduated with a degree in Engineering Physics as the first woman to complete all four years in Applied Science at Queen’s University. She was the only woman in her graduating class of 1132 students. Seventy-three years later, 30% of our graduates identify as women. We are proud to be among the schools with the highest percentages of students who identify as women. Next year we will celebrate 80 years of women students in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. We will dedicate the year to Nancy Scarth and the other women at that time who were the trailblazers for the many women that followed in their footsteps. We are very grateful.


Nancy Scarth, BSc'49, with Dean Kevin Deluzio in 2019