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The daughter of a teacher and an NYPD cop, Maxine Hauser Nietz was the first member of her family to attend college.


She said her mother used to say that the happiest day of her life was the day Maxine was admitted to The Cooper Union. 


Maxine was one of the few women enrolled in engineering in the 1960s and she majored in Civil Engineering. She worked for the NYPD for a while after Cooper but soon found an application for her Cooper education in the space program. Working for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, she became the first woman mission controller. She then worked for the Air Force via Lockheed Missiles & Space Co., and AT&T in the San Francisco bay area, before marrying, moving, and starting a computing company in Nevada. 


MaxineMaxine and Fred were careful with their money and had made plans to protect it, just in case. When Fred was diagnosed with cancer, they went to an attorney and revised their wills. Since they had no children and wanted to take care of their niece and two nephews, they divided their estate into four equal parts—one for the niece, two for the nephews, and one for The Cooper Union. 


After losing Fred to cancer, Maxine set out on a trip to touch base with the people she loved, and the places that meant the most to her in her life. One of those stops was Cooper, where she was given a campus tour.


During that tour, and over a beer at McSorley’s afterwards, Maxine recalled how Cooper had given her the only chance she had to afford and attend college.  She was able to express her gratitude for that opportunity and the pleasure it gave her to have been in a position to plan such a gift. 


The visit also gave Maxine a chance to talk about how she wanted her eventual gift to be used, and how she could take steps in concert with Cooper now to make sure her gift would be handled exactly the way she wanted. 


It also gave representatives of Cooper the chance to learn more about Maxine’s trailblazing career, welcome her back to Cooper, and better understand what makes The Cooper Union so special.