Senior staff manufacturing engineer Ernest D. Levert was born on March 14, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio to parents William and Gertrude Levert. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and attended Max S. Hayes Vocational High School. As a sophomore, Levert interned with NASA at the John H. Glenn Research Center. He graduated from Max S. Hayes Vocational High School in 1972. After working briefly as a tool and die welder at Club Products in Cleveland, Levert served a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and attended the U.S. Navy’s Broaden Opportunity for Officers and Selection Training (BOOST) Program. Levert went on to graduate from Ohio State University in 1982 with his B.S. degree in welding engineering, specializing in robotic, laser-beam, and electron-beam welding.
In 1986, Levert joined Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Division in Dallas, Texas where he worked on projects under NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense such as the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, Multiple Launch Rocket System, and the Army Tactical Missile System. Levert’s division created and implemented the heat rejection system and the photovoltaic radiators for the International Space Station thermal batteries and crew areas for removing excess heat. He also developed a welding system of elbow tubing designed to carry coolant gases in radiators that are part of the Space Station. In 1996, Levert was appointed as the senior staff manufacturing engineer at Lockheed Martin. In this position, Levert continued to work on perplexing problems, like the case in 1996 when his development team ensured that the welding of the rocket motor and warhead of live missiles were secure and tamper-proof for international distribution. Throughout his career, Levert has developed standard policies and processes that provide structural integrity for many Lockheed Martin products. He has also contributed to the following books, BSA Welding Merit Badge Book, American Welding Society Welding Handbook, and Sparking the Future: National Center for Welding Education and Training, published by the Welding Education Center in 2009.
In 2002, Levert became the first African American to serve as president of the American Welding Society. In 2006, he was the first African American elected chairman of Commission IV (Power Beam Processes) of the International Institute of Welding. Levert also became the first African American elected president of the Federation of Material Societies in 2007. He was honored with the Outstanding and Distinguished Alumni Awards from the Ohio State University School of Engineering in 2004 and with the NOVA Award for Outstanding leadership from Lockheed Martin in 2006.
Levert and his wife, Rhonda, have two children: Chantale and Ernest Jr.
Ernest D. Levert was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 29, 2013.