Dr. Harriett B. Rigas (1934-1989) was an electrical engineer with an international reputation for her hybrid computer and computer simulation research. At Washington State University between 1966 and 1984, she was eventually both full professor and chair of Electrical and Computing Engineering. Later she chaired larger departments at the Navy’s Postgraduate School in Monterey and, at the time of her death, Michigan State University.
Her achievements in engineering research, administration, and service were widely recognized. In 1975-76, Harriett was a Program Director at the National Science Foundation and, over the years, a member of numerous panels and advisory committees at both the NSF and the national Academy of Sciences. Her honors included being voted a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, an international organization for professional electrical engineers, and being given the University of Kansas’ Distinguished Engineering Service Award.
Harriett’s success was achieved within a profession and within university administrative structures where there were very few women.
Her character and courage were both evident in her strong advocacy of advancement for women. She was involved both locally and nationally in the Society of Women Engineers (and given one of their early national achievement awards).
At WSU, Harriett chaired the Commission on the Status of Women during its infancy in the early 70s; and she was an early president of the Association for Faculty Women. To individual women she was a source of encouragement and advice.
The Association for Faculty Women named the Harriett B. Rigas Outstanding Woman in Doctoral Studies Award in her honor.