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Michael Spencer

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Information about Michael Spencer

Profile image of Michael Spencer

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Electrical Engineer
Computer Scientist
Engineering Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
3/9/1952
Birth Location:
Detroit, Michigan

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Electrical Engineer
Computer Scientist
Engineering Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
3/9/1952
Birth Location:
Detroit
See how Michael Spencer is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Electrical Engineer, Computer Scientist and Engineering Professor Michael G. Spencer was born on March 9, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan. Spencer’s passion for teaching is part of a family tradition, his mother and grandparents were teachers. He grew up in Washington, D.C. and travelled to Ithaca, New York to study at Cornell University. He earned his B.S. degree in 1974 and his M.S. degree in 1975. Spencer worked at Bell Laboratories from 1974 to 1977 before returning to Cornell to receive his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering in 1981.
He joined the faculty of Howard University as an assistant professor in 1984. Spencer also founded the Materials Science Center for Excellence in 1984 and served as its director for the entirety of his career at Howard. He spent the next eighteen years working and researching at Howard, becoming a full professor in 1990 and the David and Lucile Packard Chaired Professor of Materials Science in 1999. During this time, Spencer also worked as a visiting scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s JET Propulsion Laboratory. In 1999, he returned to his alma mater, Cornell University as professor of electrical engineering. He served as associate dean of research and graduate studies for the College of Engineering from 2002 to 2008. Spencer directed the Wide Bandgap Laboratory where he researched semiconductor materials like Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN), as well as two dimensional semiconductors like graphene. He co-founded Widetronix, a company that builds low power long life betavoltaic batteries. Spencer has written over 130 publications concerning semiconductors and has also co-authored eleven United States patents.

Spencer has received much recognition for his research and teaching. In 1985, he received the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. Spencer also received the QEM (Quality Education for Minorities) Giants of Science Award and the Allen Berman Research Publication Award from the Naval Research Laboratory. He served as one of the directors for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Nano-Fabrication Network. Spencer was a member of the program committee of the American Vacuum Society and the International Conference on Silicon Carbide and Related Materials. He also held memberships in the Electronic Materials Conference Organizing Committee and the Compound Semiconductor Symposium Organizing Committee. Spencer lives in Ithaca, New York.
Michael G. Spencer was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 5, 2012.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Michael Spencer's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Michael Spencer lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Michael Spencer describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Michael Spencer talks about the Denmark Vesey Revolt
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Michael Spencer talks about the history of Charleston, South Carolina
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Michael Spencer talks about his ancestors in the Marines during the Revolutionary War
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Michael Spencer talks about his mother's childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Michael Spencer describes his mother's education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Michael Spencer describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Michael Spencer describes his paternal great-grandfather acquiring freedom and becoming a teacher
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Michael Spencer describes how his paternal great-grandfather became a shoemaker
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Michael Spencer talks about his paternal great-grandfather losing his stocks in the Stock Market Crash of 1929
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Michael Spencer talks about his great-grandmother Sue Spencer's family pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Michael Spencer talks about his great-grandmother Sue Spencer's family pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Michael Spencer talks about his father growing up in Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Michael Spencer talks about his father's career as a beer salesman
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Michael Spencer describes how his parent's met
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Michael Spencer talks about his parents' marriage
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Michael Spencer describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Michael Spencer talks about his household as a child
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Michael Spencer describes the neighborhoods he grew up in
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Michael Spencer talks about elementary school and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Michael Spencer talks about the death of his father
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Michael Spencer talks about his mother's careers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Michael Spencer talks about government officials his mother worked with
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Michael Spencer talks about his mother being part of African American society in Washington D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Michael Spencer talks about his junior high school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Michael Spencer talks working with a graduate student on his science fair project
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Michael Spencer talks about Dr. Herman Branson's involvement in the discovery of the structure of DNA
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Michael Spencer talks about Dr. Herman Branson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Michael Spencer describes how he decided to go to a prep school in New Hampshire
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Michael Spencer talks about his experience at his prep school, New Hampton School, in New Hampshire
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Michael Spencer describes his science classes and extracurricular activities at his prep school, New Hampton School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Michael Spencer talks about his interviews for admission to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Michael Spencer describes the racial tensions on Cornell University's campus when he attended
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Michael Spencer talks about the Africana Studies Department at Cornell University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Michael Spencer describes the engineering department at Cornell University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Michael Spencer talks about the Black Electrical Engineers and alumni of Cornell University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Michael Spencer talks about his time as a member of the Nation of Islam
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Michael Spencer talks about Minister Farrakhan and Malcolm X
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Michael Spencer talks about religion
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Michael Spencer talks about his education at Cornell University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Michael Spencer describes the work environment at Bell Laboratories
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Michael Spencer describes his work at Bell Laboratories
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Michael Spencer talks about his doctoral dissertation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Michael Spencer talks about his time as a professor at Howard University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Michael Spencer talks about doing research at Howard University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Michael Spencer talks about his former students at Howard University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Michael Spencer describes his decision to leave Howard University to become a professor at Cornell University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Michael Spencer talks about his research at Cornell University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Michael Spencer talks about Widetronix, the company he cofounded
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Michael Spencer talks about the prospects of Widetronix
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Michael Spencer describes his publications and patents
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Michael Spencer reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Michael Spencer talks about STEM education in the United States
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Michael Spencer describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Michael Spencer talks about his family
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Michael Spencer talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Michael Spencer describes his photographs