10 Black Engineers You Should Know

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Suppose George Washington Carver, Madam C.J. Walker, Garrett Morgan, and Percy Julian are known for touching every life with their technological advancements in the last millennia. In that case, these Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) winners are some of history’s most innovative people. These trailblazing scientists and engineers include the architect of the modern-day personal computer, a pioneer in the field of digital cellular communication, and the inventor of technologies that allow The Walt Disney Company to create new magic, illusions, and entertainment. The list of educators runs from the first Black female at one of America’s oldest engineering institutions to the man credited with producing more Black engineers than any other person in the history of U.S. higher education.

Jesse Russell

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Jesse Russell pioneered the field of digital cellular communication in the 1980s after training as an electrical engineer at historically Black Tennessee State University and Stanford University. He has worked in wireless communications for over 20 years and holds patents in broadband wireless networks, technologies and services, and digital cellular base station design. Russell won a Black Engineer of the Year Outstanding Technical Contribution Award in 1992.

Lanny Smoot

Lanny Smoot has invented and patented many forward-looking technologies that allow The Walt Disney Company to create new magic, illusions, and entertainment. With more than one hundred patents to his name, he is Disney’s most prolific inventor. Smoot received the Black Engineer of the Year Most Promising Engineer Award in 1987.

Stephanie C. Hill

Stephanie C. Hill, an employee of Lockheed Martin since 1987, has held various positions, including serving as vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions Civil line of business, vice president of corporate internal audit, and vice president and general manager of Electronic Systems-Mission Systems & Sensors. Hill is the 2014 Black Engineer of the Year.

Linda Gooden

The 2006 Black Engineer of the Year, Linda Gooden, has played a significant role in programs that focus on increasing diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Gooden worked with programs at Morgan State and Hampton universities and served on the board of the University of Maryland’s School of Engineering, Prince George’s Community College Foundation, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, and Boy Scouts. Currently, she is chair of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. She also serves on the board of ADP, Inc., one of the largest providers of business outsourcing solutions and integrated computing solutions to auto, truck, motorcycle, marine, and recreational vehicle dealers.

Shirley Ann Jackson

Shirley Ann Jackson has been the President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute since 1999. A theoretical physicist, she has had a distinguished career that includes senior leadership positions in academia, government, industry, and research. She is the first African American woman to receive a doctorate from MIT — in any field — and has been a trailblazer throughout her career, including as the first African American woman to lead a top-ranked research university. In 2001, Dr. Jackson became the first woman to win the Black Engineer of the Year Award at the BEYA STEM Conference hosted by US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine.

Alicia Boler Davis

Alicia Boler Davis is the Senior Vice President of Global Customer Fulfillment at Amazon. Before Amazon, Boler Davis spent 25 years at General Motors (GM), becoming the first Black woman to run a manufacturing plant. She also served as senior vice president of customer experience and later executive vice president of global manufacturing. Boler Davis is the 2018 Black Engineer of the Year.

Mark Dean

Mark Dean is the architect of the modern-day personal computer. Along with serving as a vice president at IBM, Dean holds three of the original nine patents on the computer that all PCs are based upon. He earned a Ph.D. from Stanford University, is in the National Hall of Inventors, and has more than thirty patents pending. Mark Dean was named Black Engineer of the Year in 2000.

John Brooks Slaughter

Dr. John Brooks Slaughter is the Deans’ Professor of Education and Engineering at USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Dr. Slaughter has received distinctions for his contributions to science and engineering policy. These distinctions, among others, include being named the first Black Engineer of the Year at the 1987 BEYA STEM Conference, hosted by Career Communications Group, Inc.

Freeman Hrabowski 

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, since 1992, has been a consultant on science and math education to national agencies, universities, and school systems. He leads a university that has been recognized as a model for inclusive excellence by such publications as U.S. News & World Report. In addition, he has recognized UMBC as a national leader in academic innovation and undergraduate teaching for the past ten years. Dr. Hrabowski received the Black Engineer of the Year award in 2013.

Eugene M. DeLoatch

Eugene M. DeLoatch, Ph.D., is dean emeritus of Morgan’s Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering. Before Morgan State, Dr. Deloatch spent 24 years on the faculty at Howard University, first as a professor of engineering then as chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering. He joined Morgan State in 1984 to launch the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering as the school’s inaugural dean. During his 33 years at the helm, he is credited with producing more Black engineers than any other person in the history of U.S. higher education. Dr. DeLoatch is the 2017 Black Engineer of the Year.

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