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Rodney Adkins

Corporate executive and computer engineer Rodney Adkins was born on August 23, 1958, in Miami, Florida, to Archie and Wauneta Adkins. He attended Miami Jackson High School where he graduated in 1976 as valedictorian. In 1981, Adkins graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with his B.S. degree in electrical engineering. He then received his B.A. degree in physics from Rollins College in 1982, and an M.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1983 from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Adkins began working at International Business Machines (IBM) in 1981 as a test engineer. In 1986, he was promoted to manager of special component engineering. In the early 1990s, Adkins helped to develop the IBM ThinkPad, one of the first laptop computers, and a frequent winner of design awards following its launch in 1992. In 1993, he attended Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development. A promotion to vice president of commercial desktop systems followed in 1995. Within three years, Adkins became the general manager of the UNIX server division, which he revitalized. In 1998, IBM named him to its Worldwide Management Council which consisted of forty-five of IBM’s top executives. In 2002, Adkins was promoted to vice president of development for IBM’s systems and technology group, and he remained in that position until 2007 when he was named an IBM corporate officer and senior vice president of development and manufacturing for the systems and technology group. Adkins became the first African American to attain that position in the history of IBM. In 2009, he was named the senior vice president and group executive of IBM’s systems and technology group. Adkins was named senior vice president of IBM’s corporate strategy in 2013.

Adkins has received numerous awards including the 1996 award for Black Engineer of the Year, the 2007 Black Engineer of the Year, and Black Enterprise magazine’s Corporate Executive of the Year in 2011. Fortune magazine has also named Adkins one of the 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in America in 2002, and, in 2001, the National Society of Black Engineers awarded him the Golden Torch Award for Lifetime Achievement in Industry. In 2011, Adkins was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Adkins is married to Michelle Collier, and they have two sons, Rodney and Ryan.

Rodney Adkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 9, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.173

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/9/2013

Last Name

Adkins

Maker Category
Middle Name

C.

Occupation
Schools

Rollins College

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Jones-Ayers Middle School

Miami Jackson Senior High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Rodney

Birth City, State, Country

Louisville

HM ID

ADK01

Favorite Season

Christmas, New Years

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Miami Beach, Florida

Favorite Quote

We're Moving Forward And We're Moving Fast.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/23/1958

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood, Clams

Short Description

Corporate executive and computer engineer Rodney Adkins (1958- ) has worked for IBM for over thirty years. He was the company’s first African American corporate officer and senior vice president of development and manufacturing for the systems and technology group.

Employment

International Business Machines (IBM)

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rodney Adkins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rodney Adkins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rodney Adkins describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rodney Adkins describes his mother's education and occupation as a nurse

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rodney Adkins describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rodney Adkins talks about his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rodney Adkins describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rodney Adkins talks about his father's job as a custodian

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rodney Adkins talks about your siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Rodney Adkins describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Rodney Adkins talks about growing up in Miami, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rodney Adkins talks about the Allapattah neighborhood in Miami, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rodney Adkins describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rodney Adkins talks about reading comic books as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rodney Adkins talks about taking things apart as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rodney Adkins talks about his childhood experiments with radios and becoming interested in systems

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rodney Adkins talks about the influence of the Space Program when he was a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rodney Adkins talks about his schools

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rodney Adkins talks about his mentor Mrs. Johnson and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rodney Adkins describes how he became involved in the martial art Nisei Goju Ryu

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rodney Adkins describes his involvement in the martial art Nisei Goju Ryu

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rodney Adkins talks about his middle and high schools

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rodney Adkins describes his high school activities

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rodney Adkins describes his time in the dual-degree program at Rollins College and the Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rodney Adkins talks about African American student organizations at Rollins College and the Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rodney Adkins describes how he was recruited by IBM

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rodney Adkins describes the history of IBM

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rodney Adkins talks about the history of computers and IBM

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rodney Adkins talks about IBM

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rodney Adkins talks about being a test engineer at IBM

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rodney Adkins talks about his time at Rollins College and the Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rodney Adkins describes his work on the IBM ThinkPad

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rodney Adkins describes his work at IBM before he got involved in management

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rodney Adkins talks about the IBM ThinkPad

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rodney Adkins describes his transition from being an engineer to being a manager at IBM

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rodney Adkins talks about the open-door policy of IBM

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rodney Adkins describes the marketing of the IBM ThinkPad

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rodney Adkins talks about the restructuring of IBM

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rodney Adkins talks about his role as vice president of commercial desktop systems at IBM

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rodney Adkins talks about the acquisition of Lotus by IBM

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Rodney Adkins talks about Lotus Notes

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Rodney Adkins describes being the general manager of the UNIX server division at IBM

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Rodney Adkins talks about collaboration in engineering products

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Rodney Adkins talks IBM becoming the world leader in UNIX systems

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Rodney Adkins talks about IBM's 1999 attitude change

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Rodney Adkins talks about his promotions in IBM

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Rodney Adkins talks about the sale of IBM's personal computer business

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Rodney Adkins talks about the new era of computing

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Rodney Adkins talks about becoming a senior vice president and group executive at IBM

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Rodney Adkins talks about the IBM Blue Gene System

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Rodney Adkins talks about the IBM supercomputer Watson

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Rodney Adkins talks about IBM

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Rodney Adkins talks about the minority programs at IBM

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Rodney Adkins talks about the Strategy Fifty

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Rodney Adkins reflects on the future of his career

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Rodney Adkins reflects on his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Rodney Adkins describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Rodney Adkins talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Rodney Adkins talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Rodney Adkins talks about his mentors at IBM

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Rodney Adkins describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

5$7

DATitle
Rodney Adkins talks about the restructuring of IBM
Rodney Adkins talks about the sale of IBM's personal computer business
Transcript
Now, IBM went through a restructuring in 1988, I believe, right? Could you tell us about that, and how did that affect research and development?$$So, it turns out one of the constants in IBM is our commitment to long-term research and development. And this is a company that really, really doesn't waiver from that, you know. So when you look at how the company started, and even when you look at our profile today, we continue to invest heavily in R and D, in research and development, because we have an innovation agenda, and we do believe innovation is part of--part of the capabilities in the--and solutions that we provide to the marketplace. This point on restructuring, just like any company, we have been faced throughout our history--not once, but it's been times in our history where we were challenged in terms of sustaining our growth, and, you know, continue to make a difference in the marketplace. And that was sort of an inflection point for us back then, where we actually had to rethink our overall portfolio and the focus of the company. So we made adjustments. And like any, I think, market leader or high-performance company, they are willing to deal with change. And, you know, I think that's one of the hallmarks of, you know, a company that has survived for a hundred years, that we are willing to deal with making change, and we continue to invest in innovation. And I think if you take those two principles, those have been sort of foundational for, for IBM. And even when you start to look at where we are today, we are already asserting, and have been asserting, that as we see the future, moving forward, we think that there is a new wave of computing. And we've already started making the investments. We've actually already delivered some products to the marketplace that will start to, you know, deliver on what we're describing as the cognitive era of computing; you know, the ability of, you know, systems that will have more learning techniques built into the systems as opposed to this current era or the previous era that we've been was more about programmable systems.$$Okay Okay. Now, in '93 [1993], you know, IBM was experiencing a downturn when Louis Gerstner--$$Yes. Yeah, Lou Gerstner joined the company.$$--became the CEO [chief executive officer].$$Yeah.$$And--well, there was this dramatic acquisition of Lotus, you know. Now, what were your thoughts about that?$$Well, Lotus--so, first of all, the point on Lou joining the company, he actually the--I guess, the first--he was the first CEO in our history that was hired from the outside; not a heritage IBM--IBMer. And I think he did some fundamental things to help, sort of, get IBM back on a growth track. And it was really going back to what we were good at - focused on the client and making sure that we are making the investments that will make a difference for the marketplace and our clients. And, as you can see, throughout his tenure along with the senior leadership team, we made, again, the necessary adjustments and changes to get us back on the growth path that, you know, back on the growth that we wanted to be on. So when you look at Lou, he did make a difference through his leadership along with other leaders across, across the company.$In 2004, I guess, prompted by the new CEO, Lou Palmisano--$$Palmisano, yeah.$$--IBM actually sells its PC- PC [personal computer] business to Chinese-based Lenovo.$$Yes. Lenovo.$$And what's your view of this sale?$$Well, the sale of our PC business to Lenovo, at that point in time, was the right, I think, time for us to sell that business, because, again, we started to see patterns in the marketplace where value was migrating to new spaces and into new areas. And this was very consistent with the role I had after coming out of the UNIX business on pervasive computing, because we started to see where the PC was no longer the centerpiece in IT [information technology]. New types of devices were being enabled as part of the information technology environment. And intelligence was moving into new types of devices, sensors, and actuators becoming part of business processes, even buildings. You start to look at how intelligence was being--medical devices being embedded, smart phones, tablets. So our view, at the time, was, you know, and this is traditional at IBM in terms of continued change and sustainable investments around innovation. That was a point in time where we said it made more sense for us to focus on other areas of growth with our clients. So the decision was, it became more straightforward over time where, since the PC was no longer the center of IT, this was an opportunity for us to sort of divest in that area and start to invest in other areas, like, more investments in software, more investments in services, more investments in what we're calling today smarter planet solutions, which some of the things that I worked on as part of Pervasive Computing, is consistent with some of the things that we're doing around what we call smarter planet solutions. So our view was, the value and the opportunity was shifting, and it made more sense for us to focus on those new areas of opportunity.$$Okay. Okay. Was there any reason why China was--I mean, you have any analysis as to why China wanted to take over the PC business?$$Now, I'm not sure if--well, I mean, when we looked at the opportunity, Lenovo was, you know, among the list of interested parties, and that's who we ultimately closed the business, business transaction with.$$Okay. So they were really interested in still making PCs then?$$Yeah. And even today, when you look at Lenovo's business model, they are--they continue to be a strong, you know, provider of PC-based, PC-based solutions.

Joan Langdon

Mathematician and education administrator Joan Sterling Langdon was born on August 1, 1951 in Marion, South Carolina. After graduating from Hampton University with her B.A. degree in 1973, she enrolled in the College of William & Mary where she received her M.A. degree in 1977. Langdon went on to graduate from Old Dominion University with her M.S. degree in 1985, and American University with her Ph.D. degree in 1989.

Langdon began her career in higher education as an instructor at Rappahannock Community College in 1977. From 1979 to 1985, she was appointed instructor/lecturer at Hampton University where she also served as the first director of the Mathematics/Science Laboratory. After completing her doctorate at American University in 1989, Langdon joined the Bowie State University community as an Associate Professor in 1989. During her tenure at Bowie State University, she has served in several administrative positions, including as Director of the Summer Institute in Engineering and Computer Applications Program; Coordinator of the Computer Science program in the Department of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computer Science; and, as the Faculty Administrative Intern. In 1994, she initiated the Senior Year Progression and Transition Program (SYPAT) and served as coordinator of the program. While there, Langdon served as Founding Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2006, she was appointed as Director of the Title III Program and Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Langdon has also served as chair and/or as a member of numerous committees at Bowie State University and in the University System of Maryland. She was appointed as a curriculum, proposal, and paper reviewer for the Maryland State Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), respectively. In 1996, she was appointed to the ACM National Program Committee for SIGCSE. In addition, she has made presentations at all levels of higher education, participated in numerous workshops and conferences, published in conference proceedings, and developed software programs. She has also served as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator for several grants and sub-contracts, and has authored technical reports.

In 1999, Langdon received the ROTC Army Achievement Medal. Bowie State University honored her with the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2003 and the Distinguished Services Award for Outstanding and Dedicated Leadership in 2012. In 2007, she was awarded the NASA Administration Diversity Enhancement Award.

Langdon is married to Larry L. Langdon. They have four daughters: Tomaysa Sterling, Yvonne Langdon, Yvette Langdon, and Heather Langdon.

Joan Sterling Langdon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.160

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/22/2013

Last Name

Langdon

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Sterling

Schools

American University

Old Dominion University

College of William and Mary

Hampton University

Bryn Mawr College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joan

Birth City, State, Country

Marion

HM ID

LAN09

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Alaska

Favorite Quote

God bless the child who has his own.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/1/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fruit

Short Description

Math professor and education administrator Joan Langdon (1951 - ) , the Founding Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Bowie State University, also served as director of the Title III Program and Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Employment

Bowie State University

American University

United States Census Bureau

Hampton Institute

Rappahannock Community College

York County Public Schools

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joan Langdon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon describes her mother's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon describes her mother's family background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her maternal grandmother's lineage and her grandfather's service in World War I

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about his grandfather purchasing land in South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about her mother's growing up in Marion, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon describes her father's growing up on a farm, his livelihood as a farmer, and his purchase of land in Marion, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about her father's desire to become a brain surgeon, his aptitude for math, and her parents' home remedies for illnesses

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about church and about the name "Marion"

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about her siblings - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about her siblings - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about her interest in television as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about reading her older siblings' textbooks

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon describes her experience in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about her interest in math in school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about being removed from the Civil Rights Movement, segregation in South Carolina, and growing up attending segregated schools

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon describes her experience in middle school and high school - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon describes her experience in middle school and high school - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about the teachers who influenced her in school, and her decision to attend Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about her initial experience at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about her mentors, Geraldine Darden and Genevieve Knight at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about her social experience at Hampton University and the teachers who influenced her confidence in school and college

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about the encouragement that she received from her math teacher, Geraldine Darden, at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about her academic performance at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her experience of taking a computer science class at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about getting married, graduating from Hampton University, and pursuing graduate studies at The College of William and Mary

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about teaching mathematics at Rappahannock Community College and at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon talks about attending Old Dominion University for her master's degree in computer science

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Joan Langdon talks about the evolution of computer science in the 1980s and later

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about how she decided to pursue her Ph.D. degree in computer science at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon discusses her experience in the Ph.D. program in computer science at American University and African American female Ph.D.s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about Dr. Mary Gray and her class of African American female graduates at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about balancing her family life and children with graduate school at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about the success of the Patricia Roberts Harris Fellowship program at American University while she was there

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her doctoral dissertation at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about Bowie State University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about STEM education at Bowie State University, and her involvement with the SIECA program

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about receiving the NASA Diversity Award

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about serving on the University of Maryland System Chancellor's Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about the Maryland Collaborative for Teacher Preparation

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about becoming a full professor at Bowie State University and her involvement in professional mathematical societies

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about her work-load at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about serving as the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about her involvement in the 'Writing Across the Curriculum' initiative

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about her involvement with the military science department at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon talks about serving as the interim director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Joan Langdon talks about her involvement with the NASA Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program and other university programs

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Joan Langdon describes her service as the director of Title III programs at Bowie State University and as the acting director of the office of research

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about the major sources of grants at Bowie State University

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about African American doctoral graduates in the computer science department at Bowie State University

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about her teaching and administrative responsibilities at Bowie State University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon reflects upon her career and her choices

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon talks about attending the HERS program at Bryn Mawr College

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Joan Langdon talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Joan Langdon talks about her father's desire to become a brain surgeon, his aptitude for math, and her parents' home remedies for illnesses
Joan Langdon talks about her initial experience at Hampton University
Transcript
Okay, I have to ask you this question. I have to go back to what your father's [Albert Moody] aspiration was to become a brain surgeon because it's a STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] aspiration, a science aspiration. Is there a story behind how he came up with that?$$Well, he liked working on animals, okay, and he decided he liked to do that. So on the farm he didn't have a whole lot of opportunities to do those things, because you had to do the manual stuff. But every opportunity that he got, he actually worked on the animals. So he worked--we had cows and we had swine, so, not so many goats, a goat was just there for people's pleasure, things like that. But if anything went wrong with them, he would work on them, and he liked doing that; didn't have the opportunity to work on people, but he never wanted to be a veterinarian. He said, he wanted to actually to be able to do those kinds of things on people, and he had a hard time, this is what he told us, he had a hard time when they told him that he had to stop going to school and actually start working because they needed him to work all day, making money. Before he stopped completely, he told us he would get up at four o'clock in the morning, he would go and work on the farm, then he would come back, eat and go to school. And then when he came home from school, he would get back out into the fields and work until dark, so you couldn't see. So he actually tried to prolong it by working early and by working late so he could go to school in between, but eventually that just didn't work, so he had to stop going to school.$$Okay. Now did your father or mother [Julia Ann Smalls] have a particularly high aptitude for math?$$My father did. Everything that he did on the farm, he did himself. When he laid out his acreage and made decisions on what the yield would be for the land--we planted cotton, corn, tobacco, wheat and lots of garden-related things, how much land you needed to plant for the yield that he wanted to make the amount of money, he figured all that out himself. In fact, I can tell you, one day when--this was after I was in college and went back. I used to go back home and work on the farm every summer. He was telling me how to figure out what to do with the land, how to get the yield that you wanted and how many acres and what you had to do. And it was amazing to me that he could do this, and he did it all in here (indicating head). He didn't--no calculators, no whatevers, he did it here (indicating), and he did a few things on paper, but mostly, he did it in here (indicating). Early on he helped us with our homework. So up to the point where he had gone to school, he helped us all do our work for grade school and the early part of grammar school. He's the one who helped us do our work. So, he could do those things. He surprised me because there were times I had to use the calculator to get it done.$$Okay. Like I said, you know, a brain surgeon is an aspiration, it seems like a pretty big aspiration, but he was already doing veterinary things. He had a sense that he could do something. Did he have any--did he know like the traditional herbal remedies for--$$Oh, my goodness, yes. We never went to the doctor, never went to the doctor until things were really, really serious, otherwise, between my mother and my father, we didn't go. Brewed us tea and drink it, you felt better, eat this, you felt better, making combinations of things so that you would have a medication that would solve the problem, that's all that they did. In fact, I can honestly tell you, I probably went to the doctor for the first time--somehow, I had low blood pressure and I was getting weak, and nobody could figure out why. That's the first time that I could remember having gone the doctor when I was growing up, first time. Other than that--$$How old were you?$$Early high school.$$Okay.$$Now, we went--you had to go for shots, you know what I mean.$$Vaccinations?$$Yeah, vaccinations and things like that, but I mean literally seeing a doctor, didn't do that, didn't have to, they gave us the remedies. We were okay.$$Okay.$All right, 1969, at Hampton University. Well, tell us about your first day at Hampton?$$Well, believe it or not, my first day was a little different than what people would expect. I had to go early, okay. So that means the first day we were supposed to arrive, it would have been on Monday. But my father's [Albert Moody] truck had problems, so we had to hire somebody to take me to school. So, literally, I had to go a day early. So they took me on Saturday, because the person who took us had to be at work on Monday and, of course, couldn't take me on Sunday. So, literally, my mom [Julia Ann Smalls] and one of our neighbors drove me to school on Saturday, and so there were only--and two other people had the same problem. So three of us were in the dorm that night, and the dorm mother was there. And when we showed up, of course, we surprised her to death, because of course we weren't supposed to be there. So we were there that day and the next day. And then on Monday, when we were actually supposed to be there to sign in and register and all of that stuff, so I was able to do that and my scholarships were all there in place, everything was there, and you know, well in those days we had a week of orientation. So we went around, we registered during that week, we learned the Hampton song, we found our other buildings that we were supposed to go to for our classes, we took our testing, we did all of those things within the first five days at Hampton, and I ended up actually taking two tests because I wanted to be a math major. So, to be a math major, I had to prove to them that I knew algebra inside and out, so they gave me this algebra test to take to prove to them that I knew some, and so I did, I to a test, extra test, you took the first one and then you had to take the second one.$$Okay. Okay, so you qualified to become a math major?$$Yes.

Samuel Williamson

Atmospheric scientist Samuel P. Williamson was born on March 5, 1949, in Somerville, Tennessee to the late Julius Williamson, Jr. and Izoula Smith. He graduated from W.P. Ware High School in 1967. Williamson received his B.S. degree in mathematics from Tennessee State University in 1971 and his B.S. degree in meteorology from North Carolina State University in 1972. He went on to earn his M.A. degree in management from Webster University in 1976. From 1996 to 1997, Williamson was a visiting Executive Fellow at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government where he explored national security issues involving science, technology, and public policy.

In 1971, Williamson was hired as an elementary mathematics teacher in the Fayette County School System in Tennessee. Later in 1971, he began his atmospheric science career as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force’s Air Weather Service. In 1977, Williamson joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For more than twelve years, he was NOAA’s principal planner and ultimately the Director of the Joint System Program Office for the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) WSR-88D, Doppler Weather Radar System through the design, development and initial deployment of this first major joint program among three Federal departments—the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Transportation. Later, as a Senior Staff Associate for the National Science Foundation, Williamson enhanced science education. In his role as a senior advisor to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, he helped shape the legislative agenda for science, space, and technology policy. In 1998, Williamson was appointed as the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research. As the Federal Coordinator, he is accountable to the U.S. Congress and the Office of Management and Budget for systematic coordination and cooperation among 15 Federal departments, independent agencies, and executive offices with meteorology programs or interests to ensure the Federal government provides the best possible weather information and user services to the Nation. Under his leadership, significant advances were made in the areas of aviation weather, space weather, wildland fire weather, weather information for surface transportation, advanced modeling and data assimilation, and tropical cyclone research and operations.

Williamson is a member of the American Meteorological Society, the Montgomery College Foundation Board, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the National Guard Association. He also serves on the Committee for the Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability (CENRS) of the National Science and Technology Council.

Williamson is a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award (2010), the NOAA Distinguished Career Award (2010), the NOAA Bronze Medal (1996), and the National Guard Association of the United States Garde Nationale Trophy (1993). In 2006, Williamson was elected as a Fellow of the African Scientific Institute.

Samuel P. Williamson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.142

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/22/2013

Last Name

Williamson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

P.

Schools

Harvard University

Webster University

North Carolina State University

Tennessee State University

Fayette Ware Comprehensive High School

Jefferson Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Samuel

Birth City, State, Country

Somerville

HM ID

WIL64

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Charleston, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Be the best that you can be

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

3/5/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Atmospheric scientist Samuel Williamson (1949 - ) was appointed as the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1998. In 2010, Williamson received the Presidential Rank Award and the NOAA Distinguished Career Award.

Employment

United States Department of Commerce

United States Air Force

Fayette County School System

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Samuel Williamson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson talks about his mother's education and her employment

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson describes his father's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson describes his father's family background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson talks about his father's personality and his education and his employment

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson talks about his father's employment

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson talks about his mother's education and his relationship with his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson talks about his father's service in World War II as a quartermaster on the Red Ball Express and his skill as a sharpshooter

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson talks about his parents' last years together

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson tells the story of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson tells the story of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Samuel Williamson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson talks about his mathematical skills

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Somerville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience in grade school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson talks about his teachers in grade school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience in high school - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience in high school - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson describes his decision to attend Tennessee State University and receiving a scholarship to do so

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson talks about joining the U.S. Air Force ROTC at Tennessee State University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Samuel Williamson talks about getting married in 1970

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience at Tennessee State University the evening that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson describes the events on Tennessee State University's campus following Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson talks about his teachers at Tennessee State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson talks about his career in the U.S/ Air Force, and well known football players who were at Tennessee State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson talks about football player, Joe Gilliam

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson talks about athletes from Tennessee State University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson describes his decision to study meteorology at North Carolina State University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience while studying meteorology at North Carolina State University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience with racism while trying to find housing near Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience at Charleston Air Force Base

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson describes his decision to pursue his master's degree in management at Webster University's Air Force extension program

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson describes his contributions at the National Weather Service and as the principal planner of the NEXRAD Joint System Program

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson talks about his mentors, Richard Hellgren and Colonel William Barney

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson describes his work as the deputy director of the NEXRAD Joint System Program

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson talks about receiving the Presidential Rank Award in 2010

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson talks about retiring from the U.S. Air Force in 2001

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson talks about radar technology for weather and airplane control, and explains the phenomenon of wind shear

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson talks about phase array radar

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Samuel Williamson shares his perspectives on the evolution of weather warning systems, and the need for infrastructure to sustain inclement weather

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson discusses the importance of improved weather warning systems and shelter infrastructure

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson discusses the need for better response to severe weather warnings and improved shelter infrastructure

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson explains why the United States is prone to tornadoes

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson describes his work in the area of atmospheric and environmental transport dispersion models

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson describes his contributions to improving traffic reports for increasing the safety of highway travel

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson describes his work on improving predictions of the development and impact of storms and hurricanes

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson talks about providing recommendations for better ways of dealing with wildfires in the western U.S.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson talks about his collaboration with federal agencies to monitor the impact of solar radiations

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson reflects upon his career and his legacy - part one

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson reflects upon his career and his legacy - part two

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson reflects upon his career in the military and his experience as a Visiting Executive Fellow at Harvard University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson reflects upon the mentoring that he received over the course of his career in the federal government

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson talks about his wife and his two children

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$6

DAStory

7$5

DATitle
Samuel Williamson talks about his father's personality and his education and his employment
Samuel Williamson describes his contributions to improving traffic reports for increasing the safety of highway travel
Transcript
And so, he [Williamson's father, Julius Williamson, Jr.] was picked to do good; he was well known in the community, well respected, he promoted education, he was a family man, he always wanted--he was very spiritual, he was a deacon in the church where he actually grew up at. He became a deacon on the deacon board in 1950 and served fifty-four years on the deacon board where he retired in 2004. He passed the torch to my brother, whose name is Julius Williamson III. He also was chairman. I had already left, you know, I had my own career and so forth. So, but he was the one the community looked up to, my dad was well known and very respected. When people wanted things they came to him, if blacks wanted to borrow money from the bank his word was good enough, you know, up to a certain amount. So he helped people and he believed in helping people and I remember when I was a child, my dad had a lot of clothes and stuff that he had gotten, he was giving things away and my mom [Izoula Smith Williamson] said, "Let me look at it first before you give away everything." So that's just the way he was. I will tell you one other story, he drove a school bus and then there was a young man who every morning, you know, it was cold in the winter time and he would get on the bus with no coat. My day said, "Where's your coat?" He said he left it; there was some excuse he gave every day. As it turns out he didn't have a coat and so about the third day because it was so cold, the kid gets on the bus, my dad had gone to a store and bought a brand new coat and gave it to him. So I happened to meet this young man as he is now an adult and he was telling me about this story about what kind of heart my dad had. He just wanted to help people, he felt that he was in a position; it wasn't like we were out there sharecropping and have to worry about being evicted off our land because we had our own (unclear). So I think a lot of my drive came from my father, my mom was just loving, she just cared, she did everything, you know, for her children but my dad was the primary provider.$$Okay. Now did your dad get a chance to finish school?$$No he did not, my dad had about a fifth grade education. When he went into the [U.S.] Army, then of course as part of the schooling that he got in the Army, then once he came off of active duty in 1946 the VA had what you called the GI school, means that there was money that where you could go to the school and you could learn a trade. I think he really wanted to do his in farming. He had ideas about of becoming a large farmer; he wanted to become a big farmer, you know, a black farmer. And so he learned a lot about how to manage business and so forth. So when you add up his technical training he received once he came off active duty, I would say it probably equated to a GED equivalent to high school.$$So he went to school on the GI bill?$$They called it GI school at the time but it was really the GI bill (unclear).$$So is the GI school to help people in agriculture--?$$Agriculture, development but also there were other skills too. If you wanted to become plumbers, they were technicians. The Booker T. Washington era for what he promoted was technical training, you know, become technicians.$$Industrial (unclear).$$Industrial (unclear)--.$The next thing I did in this job [Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)], I think is very important here is you think about the number of people who are dying on the highways and byways we have about 7,000 people dying on the highways every year. We have about a half million people that are being injured on the highway that are caused by weather. You may have a pile-up caused by fog, or you may have a hundred car pile-ups because of smoke, or for haze or what have you. You may have a pile-up because of frozen or liquid precipitation or even snow or what have you. So what we've done here is we have what you call a national review of what our needs and priority are on where we should be focusing our attention on research and how--what do we do about the black ice problems on bridges. What can we do now to better mitigate that issue so that when you're traveling on these bridges you don't start slipping and sliding and then create a accident that kills yourself or you run into somebody else and it kills them. What can we do to mitigate the fog problems that we are experiencing that are causing these car pile-ups. So what I have done is with this national needs assessment is that, we started a whole train of events of things that people can do. One of the first things you hear when you turn the TV on in the morning time is that you get a weather report and you get a traffic report so what we are doing with that is we are sensitizing people that you are traveling to work and you want to know how the weather is going to impact your travel. That's what I started, I started all that. It got started on all the TV networks; the weather channel works hand in hand with me. That's saving lives if you are more sensitized on what is going on. Another important thing is if you are traveling on vacation we started a national number called 511, you know what 911 is when it comes to emergencies, you dial 511, have you ever dialed it before, you are going to get two things. One is that you are going to get information about road construction or road maintenance so that you have a sense now of where traffic is going to be slow on that artery. Second thing you are going to get is weather. So if you want to know how the weather is impacting your travel on interstate 81 or 66 or 40 or any of the main arteries that you are going to be traveling throughout and in the country then that's what we are giving you now. That's something that I started. The goal is to save lives and it was never done before, this is the first time that this has ever been done when I started this.

Joseph Monroe

Computer scientist Joseph Monroe was born in North Carolina. Monroe received his B.S. degrees in mathematics, English, and French from North Carolina A & T State University in 1962. He then enrolled at Texas A & M University and graduated from there with his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science in 1967 and 1972, respectively. Monroe was the first African American to earn a doctoral degree in computer science in the United States.

Upon graduation, Monroe was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and appointed as an associate professor of computer science at the U.S. Air Force Academy. From 1978 to 1987, he held various positions at the U.S. Air Force Academy, including as the Dean of the Faculty, chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering, chair of the Computer Science Department. Monroe went on to become the first African American appointed as a full professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. While there, he was responsible for developing computer software systems such as the U.S. Air Force Manpower System, the U.S. Army Personnel System, U.S. Air Force Logistics systems, and the Armed Forces Intelligence Data Handling System. In addition, Monroe designed accredited computer science programs for the Egyptian Air Force Academy, and the Royal Thai Air Force Academy.

In 1987, Monroe joined the faculty at Fayetteville State University and served in various academic and administrative positions. He returned to North Carolina A & T State University in 1991 and was named Ronald E. McNair Endowed Professor and Chair of Computer Science. In 2000, Monroe assumed the additional role of Dean of the College of Engineering. Under his leadership, the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Engineering grew in size, increased funding, and hired the most tenured African American engineering professors in the United States. Monroe was a founding member of the first computer science honor society, Upsilon Pi Epsilon, which is now an international society. He served on the board of directors for the Industries of the Blind, the board of directors for Computing at NASA, and the board that governs the practice of Engineering and Surveying in North Carolina.

Monroe was awarded the U.S. Department of Defense Superior Service Medal for Superior Service and Teaching in 1987, and the U.S. Air Force Legion of Merit Service Medal for Outstanding Teaching and Research in 1974, 1978, and 1982. In 1992, he was named National Technical Achiever of the Year by the National Technical Achievers Association.

Monroe is married to the former Sally McNair Monroe. They have two sons: Joseph Monroe, Jr. and Col. Robert Bruce Monroe.

Joseph Monroe was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 7, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.075

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/7/2013

Last Name

Monroe

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Texas A&M University

First Name

Joseph

Birth City, State, Country

Rowland

HM ID

MON08

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Colorado

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

5/18/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Greensboro

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Computer scientist Joseph Monroe (1936 - ) was the first African American to earn a doctoral degree in the field of computer science, and went on to become the first African American appointed as a full professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Employment

United States Air Force Academy

Fayetteville State University

North Carolina A&T State University

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joseph Monroe's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joseph Monroe lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joseph Monroe describes his mother's family background and her poor educational opportunities

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joseph Monroe describes the history, demographics and racial climate of Rowland, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joseph Monroe talks about his mother's talent for singing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joseph Monroe describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joseph Monroe talks about the South of the Border resort located at the border of the Carolinas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joseph Monroe describes his father's talents, his interest in baseball, and the baseball games in Rowland, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joseph Monroe talks about his family's life as sharecroppers in Rowland, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Joseph Monroe describes how his parents met in Rowland, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Joseph Monroe describes his likeness to his parents and lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Joseph Monroe describes his family's home where he grew up in Rowland, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Joseph Monroe describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Joseph Monroe describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Rowland, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Joseph Monroe talks about the landscape of Rowland, North Carolina, the farming activities, and the industries that were established there

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Joseph Monroe talks about his childhood interest in taking gadgets apart and putting them back together

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joseph Monroe talks about his experience in elementary school, and juggling his education with his responsibilities on the family farm

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joseph Monroe talks about his family gatherings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joseph Monroe discusses segregation and the racial dynamics in Rowland, North Carolina in the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joseph Monroe describes watching the second boxing match between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling with his grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joseph Monroe recalls the excitement when Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joseph Monroe talks about excelling in mathematics in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joseph Monroe talks about his determination to not become a farmer and his experience in his high school typing class

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joseph Monroe talks about his decision to join the United States Air Force in 1954

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Joseph Monroe describes his early experience in the United States Air Force, and learning Russian at Syracuse University in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Joseph Monroe describes his experience in Turkey while stationed there with the United States Air Force in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Joseph Monroe talks about his efforts to continue his education while stationed in Turkey

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joseph Monroe talks about the U.S. Air Force's educational and financial benefits - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joseph Monroe talks about the U.S. Air Force's educational and financial benefits - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joseph Monroe talks about how he met his wife, Sallie Monroe

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joseph Monroe describes his experience at the University of Colorado, and the master's degree program in computer science

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joseph Monroe describes his experience at North Carolina A & T State University in the 1960s - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joseph Monroe describes his experience at North Carolina A&T University in the 1960s - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joseph Monroe describes his experience as a graduate student at Texas A & M University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Joseph Monroe talks about the early days of computers and computer programming systems

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Joseph Monroe talks about his mentors at Texas A&M University and about founding the computer science honor society, Epsilon Pi Epsilon

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Joseph Monroe describes his experience on the faculty of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he taught computer science

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Joseph Monroe describes his decision to pursue his Ph.D. degree in computer science

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joseph Monroe describes taking the GRE and his experience with finding housing at Texas A&M University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joseph Monroe describes his trip from Colorado to Texas in 1965, and race relations in College Station, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joseph Monroe talks about his Ph.D. dissertation on complexity theory and about winning the U.S. Air Force Academy golf championship

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joseph Monroe discusses his Ph.D. dissertation on complexity theory and earning his Ph.D. degree in computer science

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joseph Monroe talks about the growth of degree programs in computer science in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joseph Monroe talks about being the first African American to be appointed as a tenured permanent professor at any U.S. service academy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joseph Monroe talks about accrediting computer science programs, teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy and Patricia Schroeder

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joseph Monroe talks about the evolution of computers since the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joseph Monroe describes his decision to accept a position as the vice president of academic affairs at the University of North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Joseph Monroe talks about serving at Fayetteville State University and at North Carolina A&T State University

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Joseph Monroe discusses his endowed professorship of computer science at North Carolina A&T University, and the field of geomatics

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joseph Monroe describes the uses of geomatics and explains how a GPS device works

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joseph Monroe talks about his research on transportation security for the Department of Homeland Security, and on facial and voice recognition

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joseph Monroe talks about his research on reusing the ATA language in the navigation systems for ships

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joseph Monroe talks about his research on adaptation and scalability in computers

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joseph Monroe describes his contributions as the dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A & T University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joseph Monroe talks about the Engineering Research Center at North Carolina A & T State University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joseph Monroe talks about his mentoring initiatives at North Carolina A & T State University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Joseph Monroe talks about serving on the Board of Directors for Computing at NASA

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Joseph Monroe talks about his most significant contributions as the dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Joseph Monroe describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Joseph Monroe talks about his family, and his decision to not enroll in the NASA astronaut program

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joseph Monroe talks about his sons, Joseph Monroe, Jr. and Robert Bruce Monroe

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Joseph Monroe reflects upon his legacy and talks about his involvement in the Bible training center

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Joseph Monroe talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Joseph Monroe describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

8$5

DATitle
Joseph Monroe talks about his decision to join the United States Air Force in 1954
Joseph Monroe describes his contributions as the dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A & T University
Transcript
So, when you were a senior [at Rowland Southside School, Rowland, North Carolina], what were your prospects for college? Were you thinking about college?$$Yes, I was. But the problem was--I could sense, I knew about our financial situation. And it took money to be in college. And I had a sister in college, at Fayetteville Teachers' College [Fayetteville, North Carolina] at that time. And I can remember the struggle we had getting her twenty dollars a month. They let us have a monthly plan, but that was a struggle, getting that to her. So, the principal had said I could go to [North Carolina] A and T [Agricultural and Technical University, Greensboro, North Carolina] and come back and be the math teacher. My father [Willie Birth Monroe] thought that was a great idea and my mother [Cilla Jane Baker Monroe] thought it was a great idea. I didn't think it was such a good idea, because that would be hand going off to college and we had, my sister had two more years. One of the young men in from our high school went to the [U.S.] Air Force. And he came back in the school and talked about it, and I begged my parents to allow me to join the Air Force. And about the time they were ready to capitulate, the neighbor's son was killed in the Korean conflict. They said, no way. But my mom found--one Sunday I didn't go to church. I stayed back practicing my father's signature. She found those notes. She said, "That boy's determined to go, we'd better let him go." So, they signed for me to go to the Air Force. And I told, I promised her I would go to college and study math and become a teacher and come back. And I had no intentions of doing that. But I did go to the Air Force and got some good technical training. And the principal's wife was the English teacher. She thought I should go and study math and English and come back and teach that. So--, but I didn't. I went off to the Air Force. And after four years in the Air Force my time was up, but I was overseas doing a good job, and the commanding officer said, "We're going to send you to college." I told my mom, "The Air Force is going to send me to college. I'm not getting out."$$Now, just, I want to go back a little bit, just to get the dates.$$Yes.$$You graduated from high school in what?$$1954.$$'54 [1954]. Okay.$$Graduated in May, and June 1, I was in Texas.$$In the United States Air Force.$$The United States Air Force.$$And you went to, where in Texas did you go?$$Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio [Texas].$$Okay, okay. And that's where you had basic training, I guess, right?$$Basic training.$Tell us about being the dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A and T [Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina].$$That was a lot of fun. I had all the classical disciplines there. And my biggest thing there was fund-raising, raising funds to recruit students, particularly African American students. It was a big challenge. And our alums were not accustomed to giving much (laughter). So, what I did was got with the companies that were recruiting African Americans--General Electric, Northrup Grumman, and all the companies that recruited--Merck Company. And I got with the presidents of the people who handled the finances and told them, "Look, you don't need--if you want to beef up your African American population in engineering, see me." And they did, and I did. They came and saw our programs. And what I did do to the programs, was make sure they were nationally recognized. And the national recognition in engineering, there's something called the Fundamentals of Engineering, the FE exam, nationally standardized exam. I convinced the students they could pass the exam. And the big problem I had--the faculty wanted to run me off--was convincing the faculty that students could pass. So, we went back to the math department where they enter--worked with them. And we worked with the physics department, worked with everybody who had a hand in the fundamentals. We worked with them. We got our students passing at the same rate, or higher rate, than the students at NC [North Carolina] State [University, Raleigh, North Carolina]. Duke [University, Durham, North Carolina] was the only school in North Carolina that offered engineering that could out-perform the [North Carolina] A and T students in engineering. The school at the University of Charlotte [University of North Carolina at Charlotte], we swooped them first. (laughter) Then we took NC State. We never--Duke was always 100 percent. We never could take them. We'd be in the high 90s, 100 percent area every other year. That got the program going, and we got more funding than we needed. When I left, they had about five million dollars they couldn't find students to come take.$$Now, it says here that you also, under your leadership, there were more tenured or tenure-track African American engineering professors at A and T than any other place in the country.$$I just adopted from the [U.S.] Air Force. I would find the ones who was good in the undergraduate program and sponsor him or her for two to four years in a doctoral program. Most of them were successful. Then the allocation [ph.] they had there was, I had to compete for them at the end, you know. They could get big salaries elsewhere. I had to get the salaries up, to do that.$$Okay, okay.

Robert Dottin

Biologist and research director Robert Dottin was born in Trinidad in 1943. He graduated from St. Mary’s College in 1970 with his B.S. degree in in biology. Dottin went on to earn his M.S. degree in medical biophysics in 1972 and his Ph.D. in medical genetics in 1974 from the University of Toronto. Upon graduation, Dottin was awarded the Centennial Fellowship to pursue post-doctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dottin served as a professor at the Johns Hopkins University, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen, Pasteur Institute in Paris, Karlova University in Prague and Oxford University. Dottin then became a full professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York. His teaching experience includes courses in bioinformatics, genetics and developmental biology, all of which utilize internet and digital technology to promote interactive learning. In addition, Dottin has developed many strategies that promote the inclusion of under-represented groups in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathemathics) research as well as addressing health disparities. Dottin is the founder of the “JustGarciaHill” website – a internet-based community of more than four-thousand minorities in science. Dottin scholarship is published in journals such as the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Ethnicity and Disease.

From 1988 to 1986, Dottin served as the program coordinator for the Center for the Study of Gene Structure and Function (Gene Center) at Hunter College. In 1998, he was appointed as the director of the Gene Center. As director, Dottin increased the productivity, the level of funding, and the diversity of the faculty and staff within the organization. He steered the research at the Gene Center towards a “translational research” agenda and managed equal partnership of the Gene Center in the Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) with the Weill Cornell Medical Center, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the Hospital for Special Surgery. He is the principal investigator for the CTSC sub-award to Hunter College, and he is co-principal investigator on T3 Translational Research Network pilot projects to use an interactive videoconferencing platform to prevent chronic diseases, infectious diseases, and environmental toxicity.

Robert Dottin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 28, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.102

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/11/2013

Last Name

Dottin

Maker Category
Middle Name

Philip

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

University of Toronto

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Port of Spain

HM ID

DOT03

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Valldemossa, Majorca

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/5/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

Trinidad & Tobago

Favorite Food

Grilled Seafood

Short Description

Biologist Robert Dottin (1943 - ) is a professor at Hunter College of City University of New York where he also was appointed as the program coordinator for the Center for the Study of Gene Structure and Function (Gene Center).

Employment

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

John Hopkins University

City University of New York

Hunter College

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Dottin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Dottin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Dottin describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Dottin talks about his mother, Lena Decoteau

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Dottin describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Dottin describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Dottin talks about his parents' personality and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Dottin describes his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert Dottin describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert Dottin describes the neighborhoods where he grew up in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robert Dottin describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Port of Spain, Trinidad - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Dottin describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Port of Spain, Trinidad - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Dottin discusses the Trinidadian economy and political activism, and his memories of the country gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1961

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Dottin describes the demographics of Trinidad and Tobago, and talks about famous writers who lived in Trinidad

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Dottin discusses the genetic diversity in Africa and his work with the H3Africa project

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Dottin talks about the schools that he attended in Trinidad, and describes the British system of education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Dottin describes his experience in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Dottin describes his math education in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Dottin talks about studying calculus

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert Dottin talks about his interest in science and mathematics, and his experience in high school at Fatima College in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Dottin describes how Trinidad gained independence from Great Britain in 1961

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Dottin talks about Trinidad's independence celebrations of 1961, and discusses the different ethnic backgrounds of immigrants and African Americans

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Dottin describes his experience in high school at St. Mary's College in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Dottin describes his decision to attend the University of Toronto

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Dottin describes his experience as an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Dottin describes his decision to pursue his master's and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Toronto, studying bacteriophage integration mechanisms

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Dottin describes his master's and Ph.D. dissertation on bacteriophage lambda regulation

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Dottin describes the scientific reaction to his Ph.D. dissertation on bacteriophage lambda regulation

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Dottin describes his postdoctoral research at MIT, where he discovered novel features of the messenger RNA of the amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Dottin talks about his experience as a visiting professor in Copenhagen, Sweden in 1976

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Dottin describes his research on signal transduction in Dictyostelium discoideum

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Dottin talks about working with Judge W. Arthur Garrity, Jr. on minority education in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Dottin describes his decision to accept a faculty position at Hunter College in New York

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Dottin describes his initial experience at the Center for the Study of Gene Structure at Hunter College

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Dottin describes his experience at the Center for the Study of Gene Structure at Hunter College, and its achievements over the years - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Dottin describes his experience at the Center for the Study of Gene Structure at Hunter College, and its achievements over the years - part two

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Dottin talks about Just Garcia Hill

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Dottin talks about a study of the underlying biases that affect minorities in science and ongoing efforts to change this trend

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Dottin discusses his current focus on science education and administration, and his research contributions over the course of his career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Dottin discusses his work promoting collaborations in science and education

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Dottin describes his involvement in the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) initiative and his work with cyber classrooms - part one

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Dottin describes his involvement in the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) initiative and his work with cyber classrooms - part two

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Dottin shares his views on the politics of science and the debate on evolution

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Dottin shares his views on climate change and evolution

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Dottin talks about his role in establishing a collaborative network within the City University of New York and with other local universities

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Dottin describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, and discusses the need for minorities in STEM

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert Dottin reflects upon his career and his contributions towards science

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert Dottin reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert Dottin talks about his children

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert Dottin talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert Dottin describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$4

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Robert Dottin describes his involvement in the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) initiative and his work with cyber classrooms - part one
Robert Dottin describes his research on signal transduction in Dictyostelium discoideum
Transcript
Well you just mentioned before we ended the last session about the H3Africa [The Human Heredity and Health in Africa initiative] project, Francis Collins [American physician-geneticist noted for his discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP); currently serves as the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)].$$Um-hmm.$$So you want to elaborate some more about that?$$Well I mean that project arose because I had been teaching a bioinformatics course, introductory bioinformatics which I teach and I had been collaborating with people in Mississippi, several universities in Mississippi and Michigan on working on trying to build a cyber classroom where they could study something called visual analytics, which is a way of representing a lot of data in a visual way so that you can see changes. A pie chart is a visual analytic tool because even if it's based on millions of people, you know, you can have different colors to represent different groups or whatever, people who are tall or short or weigh within a particular weight and that kind of thing and you can show changes over time with these kinds of things. So, visual analytics is something that's really very important for large datasets and for representing them in a way that's easily understood. And there were grants given by the National Science Foundation [NSF] to a guy, colleague whose name is Rafael Zupe [ph.] and he has--he got a group of us together to work on this. And so, he's Nigerian and there were, and this collaboration involved people who were Chinese, whites, and all kinds from all these different universities. And this project was a pilot project and we started with him and we again provided some of the videoconferencing tools for people to work together and also we built a module which shows how you can look at evolution and teach evolution in a way online without being there and have these visual color schemes and heat maps to show differences in species across, as the evolution goes on for a particular protein. And so we built this environment and we got to know each other you know and so on and he knew what we had been doing here with Weill Cornell [Medical College, New York] and this clinical and translational research project now. So when the people in Nigeria wanted to have someone who might be able to help them with collaboration that's what they did. They called up, they asked us to come over. So Carlos, whom you met, and I went over, we did workshops there, we got people to understand the value in the technology and how it might work and it's you know, it's ongoing there. There's a meeting coming up with people in Nairobi [Kenya] and other parts of Africa, different countries now are collaborating and doing scientific collaborations and we're helping them with connecting and some of the bioinformatic things that they will be needing. Now we are not experts in bioinformatics, in genomics and high-throughput sequencing and all these techniques that they might be needing, and they will get those from other places. So our contributions--I mean we understand the projects and so on and so we are helping them in that way. Plus, some of the, two of the students now were identified and are now a part of our course so when we run the course on Saturdays, they come in. We either have the course in here and we have the students here or the students may be at home and they connect with cameras and so on and head pieces, they'll talk into the computers.$$So it's like Skype or something but with (unclear)?$$Sort of, but much more sophisticated because you can share the data and see the data that you're presenting and then talk to each other and they're seeing each other and they you know transmit information, jokes and everything and, but they don't have to come to the same place. So it's an experiment in a way on how that might work in the future. Seems to be working very well and we have of course an electronic classroom where you can put up information, slides and everything and people can work together. And that, so that's what some of them, two of the students from there are taking the course. We also do the videoconferencing for other projects in New York, reaching out to communities from here. This room is a studio and we reach--we get medical doctors and experts to come in and they give talks to people in many different places at the same time, churches and communities and so on. And they come up on the screens and they see each other and they talk about diabetes, hypertension and how to avoid it or they talk about, to people who are senior citizens in homes, how to avoid falls because a large fraction of those people who fall die as a result eventually very quickly because of the broken hips and all these things. So that's another topic. Sometimes we have a yoga person in here who might be getting people in different places to get up from their chairs and do yoga and those kinds of things. So it's prevention is the emphasis there rather than having to take more and more pills and so on. The emphasis there is on prevention. But in any case, with the Africa project it's more bioinformatics and genomics that they're focused on.$What was the most significant finding from your signal transduction research on [Dictyostelium discoideum]?$$Well the signal transduction work I did was done while I was at Johns Hopkins [University, Baltimore, Maryland] and when I came here [Hunter College, New York].$$Okay, so it's coming up?$$It's later, yeah.$$Okay, all right so Johns Hopkins [University, Baltimore, Maryland], when did you go to Johns Hopkins?$$Let's see. I think it was about the end of 1976. I can't remember exactly when but around then.$$And were you doing a post-doc at (unclear)?$$No, I was an assistant professor.$$Okay, you--$$I got a full time job.$$Okay, all right, associate professor of biology?$$Assistant.$$Assistant, okay. I'm sorry some of these are out of chronologic order.$$That's okay.$$I've got to jump around a little bit. Okay, so you were at Johns Hopkins for ten years.$$Yes.$$Yeah, from '76 [1976] to '86 [1986].$$Yes.$$And so what was the focus of your research at Johns Hopkins? I worked on the Dictyostelium [discoideum], that amoeba and that work was again concerned with regulation, gene, genetic control of development and things like that. And I, while I was there I did, I started studying signal transduction which was an important area of the research. Poorly understood at the time but now it's no big deal. The--this organism was a good one to do that experiment and it's--signal transduction has to do with how hormones work because these are molecules that are produced outside of cells and they activate cells to do certain things. And there, there are some hormones that enter the cell because they are hydrophobic. They can go through the membrane, like estrogen or something, and then they activate things inside of the cell, pathways. Tremendous biochemical reactions as you know you can stimulate, produce something in the brain and then all of a sudden it's having an affect in your liver or kidney or something. So those kinds of hormones, like the steroid hormones, that had---a lot of work was coming out on that from Yamamoto and other people on how they may work. But there are other hormones that never enter a cell and they have an effect. And in this organism we're working on, cyclic AMP [Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP, cyclic AMP or 3'-5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate) is a second messenger important in many biological processes. cAMP is derived from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and used for intracellular signal transduction in many different organisms, conveying the cAMP-dependent pathway] which is a small molecule, but it's charged, so it doesn't enter the cell, was having a profound effect on development of the cell. It changed a lot of things in the cell and allowed them to aggregate and so on. And there were people who were working on the mechanism of getting these cells sticky and aggregate--and what happens very early and one of them was at Hopkins too, Peter Devreotes, and we were looking more at gene expression. And what we found was that we could use the same molecules which were known not to enter cells but to bind on the surface and we found that those things were directly turning on genes, activating them inside the cell and that's what signal trans--well signal transduction means that something is acting on the outside and it's having an effect. Well we showed that it was actually turning on genes and at that time there were very few models where people could--there was a cancer kind of thing where some cell surface molecules were, seemed to be acting on specializing the cells or making them cancerous. But other than that, there was very little known and we took this and we showed that these molecules could bind to molecules on the outside of the cell called receptors and trigger a whole cascade of events. It's like one of these Rube Goldberg [Reuben Garrett Lucius "Rube" Goldberg was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer and inventor] things where you see the ball hits this and it hits something else and it activates something. And in the end you have the mouse jumps around or whatever. So this whole pathway was very interesting or it still is very interesting. But what we showed is that it activates the genes inside the cell and I would say that's an important, that was an important--and this was one of the few, first few papers on that area. Now there's thousands of papers on that, on how signal transduction works, literally thousands.$$Okay. But that time it was cutting edge?$$Yes.$$Okay.$$But not all the work you do as I pointed out is cutting edge. Sometimes you do stuff it's really mundane. The stuff I did at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts], it was published in a great journal [Cell] but in terms of the long term of, I think it you know it was okay but I think the signal transduction is more important and the lamda repressor things are more important.

Mark Smith

Professor of electrical and computer engineering and competitive fencer Mark J. T. Smith was born on May 17, 1956 in Jamaica, Queens, New York. After receiving his B.S. degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978, Smith enrolled at the Georgia Institute of Technology and went on to graduate from there with his M.S. degree in 1979 and his Ph.D. degree in 1984. While at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Smith helped found the coalition Empowering Minority Engineering Scientists to Reach for Graduate Education (EMERGE).

In 1984, Smith joined the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a professor of electrical and computer engineering. His research focused on communications, digital filters, and the processing of images and signals. In addition to teaching and research, Smith’s trained and competed in the sport of fencing. He was the National Champion of the United States in 1981 and 1983 and a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1980 and 1984. Smith was one of the final runners carrying the Olympic Torch to the Opening Ceremonies in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. In 2003, Smith was promoted to head Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and was the first African American to hold the position. In 2009, Smith was named the Michael J. & Katherine R. Birck Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dean of the Purdue University Graduate School.

At Georgia Institute of Technology, Smith received two teaching awards including the Georgia Tech Outstanding Teacher Award. He also authored over forty journal articles and is the co-author of four textbooks. Smith is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He was also awarded its Processing Society Senior Award in 1992. Smith has also received the IEEE’s Distinguished Lecturer Award and has sat on their Signal Processing Society Board of Governors. In 2005, Smith received the International Society of Optical Engineers’ Wavelet Pioneer Award; and in 2007, he served as president of the National Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association.

Mark J. T. Smith was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 8, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.127

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/8/2013

Last Name

Smith

Maker Category
Middle Name

J.T.

Schools

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology

First Name

Mark

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

SMI28

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Fiji, Kauai, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Indiana

Birth Date

5/17/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

West Lafayette

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster, Sea Bass (Chilean)

Short Description

Electrical engineer and competitive fencer Mark Smith (1956 - ) 1981 and 1983 U.S. National Fencing Champion and 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic fencing team member, is the Michael J. & Katherine R. Birck Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dean of the Purdue University Graduate School

Employment

General Electric Company

Atlantic Richfield R&D

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology, Lorraine

Purdue University

Favorite Color

Blue, Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mark Smith's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mark Smith lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mark Smith describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mark Smith talks about his mother's education in New York City, her love of travel, and her employment as a social worker

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mark Smith describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mark Smith talks about his father's experience in World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mark Smith talks about his father's high school education and his employment in the New York City Transit Authority

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mark Smith talks about how his parents met, and their fifty years of marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mark Smith describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mark Smith talks about growing up in a close-knit household, and staying busy as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mark Smith describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mark Smith talks about the neighborhood where he spent his childhood in Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Mark Smith describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Mark Smith talks about spending time at the YMCA as a child, in Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mark Smith describes his childhood interests and activities, while growing up in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mark Smith talks about transferring from PS-123 to PS-90 in Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mark Smith talks about his early interest in science, and the influence of his cousin, Roy

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mark Smith talks about his academic performance and mischievousness in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mark Smith describes his experience at The Henley School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mark Smith talks about his childhood interest in television and action films

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mark Smith describes his early resolve to pursue engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mark Smith describes his experience in high school at The Henley School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mark Smith talks about his decision to transfer to John Bowne High School

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Mark Smith describes his interest in swimming and fencing at John Bowne High School

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Mark Smith describes how fencing as a modern-day sport differs from the traditional fighting duel

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mark Smith talks about strategies in fencing and the fencing community in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mark Smith describes his academic performance and extracurricular activities in high school, and his interest in pursuing a career in engineering

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mark Smith describes his experience at John Bowne High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mark Smith describes his first visit to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mark Smith describes the high quality of his education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mark Smith talks about being involved with fencing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mark Smith describes his undergraduate thesis on the building of a stroboscope

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mark Smith describes his decision to pursue graduate studies in digital signal processing, at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mark Smith describes his experience in competing for a place on the 1980 U.S. Olympic fencing team

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mark Smith talks about the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mark Smith talks about his doctoral research on 'filter banks', in the field of digital signal processing for applications in speech compression

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mark Smith talks about the advancements in sound technology, in transitioning from analog to digital systems

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mark Smith describes his Ph.D. dissertation on signal decomposition

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mark Smith talks about winning the U.S. Fencing National Championships in the early 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mark Smith describes his experience in the 1984 Olympics, and talks about the expenses involved in maintaining fencing equipment

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mark Smith talks about his decision to retire from Olympic-level fencing

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mark Smith talks about his experience as an assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mark Smith describes the development and applications of the 'Analysis by Synthesis Overlapping Ad' algorithm

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Mark Smith describes his work in the area of image enhancement

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mark Smith describes the applications of his work on image morphing

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mark Smith talks about the EMERGE program at Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mark Smith describes his involvement with the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mark Smith talks about his most significant research in the area of digital signal processing

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mark Smith describes his experience of carrying the Olympic torch at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mark Smith describes his experience at Georgia Tech's campus in France, and his service as the executive assistant to the university's president

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mark Smith describes his decision to accept the position as head of the electrical and computer engineering department at Purdue University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mark Smith describes his early experience as the head of the electrical and computer engineering department at Purdue University

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Mark Smith describes his experience as the dean of the graduate school at Purdue University

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Mark Smith talks about his continuing involvement with research

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Mark Smith talks about his satisfaction with his current role in University administration

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mark Smith talks about minority students pursuing the STEM fields at Purdue University

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mark Smith describes the African American and minority community at Purdue University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mark Smith describes a social science experiment on cultural bias during employee hiring and selection

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mark Smith reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mark Smith reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mark Smith talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mark Smith talks about his parents attending his graduation, and watching fencing with him

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Mark Smith talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Mark Smith describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
Mark Smith talks about strategies in fencing and the fencing community in New York City
Mark Smith describes his undergraduate thesis on the building of a stroboscope
Transcript
Okay, so we were just talking about the difference between real fencing and theatrical fencing--$$Right.$$And so, but real fencing is a strategic, you know, is strategy more important than say, speed?$$Everything is important 'cause it all comes together, right. What you're trying to do is you recognize that if you do some action, you have to anticipate what your opponent is going to do to counter that action. And you also learn from past experience. You know, the last time you tried faint disengage, and you were parried. So now you're going to go to the other side or attack a different target. So it's all this, you know, strategy building, faking people out. There's a lot of similarity with boxing. You know, there're faints that you make to draw a reaction. The same thing with fencing. You also study people, off strip, to find out what their natural reactions might be and then try to exploit that.$$Okay, now, when you started fencing, did you know of any African American fencers?$$No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know that black people fenced. What I found out is that a lot of them fence. I mean there were a lot of black fencers in the New York City community. And many of them were very, very good fencers, national champions.$$All right. I think there's even a, historically, you know, the greatest swordsman in France at one time was Chevalier St. George [Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George] and, you know, Dumas' son was supposed to be really good, you know, yeah--his father, rather, yeah.$$So I had no idea, I mean starting out, right, I had no idea what the community looked like at all. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know that there was a community of fencers in New York City. But, you know, many of the good clubs, fencing clubs, were in New York City, and they produced the national champs. So it was a great place to learn fencing.$$Okay.$$Moreover, just in the high school system, all the high schools had fencing programs, had fencing teams. So there was lots of competition and lots of inter--what would you call it? Well, we had division championships and then borough championships and citywide championships so it was very well organized.$$There are a lot of fencing programs around the county on the high school level. I know even when I was in high school, all the schools in Dayton, Ohio had a fencing program.$$Yeah.$$But it's something that kind of flies under the radar. You don't hear a lot about who the champions of fencing are, overshadowed by, you know, basketball and football and track, and that sort of thing.$$And now soccer.$$Yeah, so how did you do as a fencer in high school?$$So in swimming, right, I was a big fish in a, the smallest, very, very small pond here. Fencing, there was only one pond. And so I did well in high school. When I went to college, I'm reminded by a buddy of mine, he tells me how terrible I was when I came in. But, you know, the level of high school fencing, all right, was not that high. But I did do well. I mean we had competitions. I remember the best, I took second in a citywide event. So I was, you know, very happy with that. More important is I just had a lot of fun fencing.$Did you have a undergraduate project that you worked on for graduation, like a capstone project or something?$$So I, at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts], you had to do an undergraduate thesis. And so that's what I had to do my thesis year. But one of the things that I did do, there's a period called IAP, Independent Activities Period, which is the month of January. And so they have hundreds of different activities that you can do, sky diving, you can do different types of projects. So I'd like doing an electronic, I tried to do some kind of an electronics project. And so the first project I did was to make a stroboscope. And I remember going to Doc Edgerton. He's this legendary professor, the one who invented and pioneered the stroboscope, strobe light, and he has some of these classic pictures that he's taken with a strobe light, that are in museums and on display and so forth, like a bullet going through an apple, where it's just frozen in motion, just crystal clear, captured through, with the stroboscope. So--$$Right, yeah, that's--$$And you probably have seen those kind--(simultaneous)--$$Yeah, I have, I have, and Edgerton, right, yeah. I remember the name now.$$So I remember going up to his lab and I met him, and I was just awestruck. Wow, this is Professor Edgerton, and he's talking to me. And he's nice. And so he was explaining about the strobes. So I said, gee, I would love to figure out how this worked and to build it. And so he gave me a schematic. Now, I didn't know what to do with the schematic. And I didn't have any of the equipment, but he helped me. And he gave me some of the parts and got me started, and I was able to work with another guy in the dormitory who was, I think, a senior. He may have been a first-year graduate student. And together we made this stroboscope. It was really quite a satisfying project. My soldering improved a whole lot since my Heathkit days.$$Okay, so how do you make a stroboscope? I mean what is the, what goes into making a stroboscope?$$Well, you need a transformer. You need to have the strobe light. Those are perhaps the two most important things. So this one used transistors. It wasn't a vacuum-tube based thing. But basically, there's an oscillator circuit that kicks the stroboscope on. And you have to generate sufficient voltage in order to, to kick the light. And so you wanna have that oscillating at a very fast frequency. The strobe light is one that can charge and discharge very quickly. So you can get that bright flash.$$Okay, so you need a bright enough, fast enough flash to catch that action with a camera, with a--$$So I, yeah, so the one that I did, I mean I wasn't trying to do photography with this. This one just blink and, so one of the demonstrations, for example, that he had, he had pulsating water that would just be dropping. And then you could shine the stroboscope on it at a certain frequency, and you would see the beads of water that appeared to stop, to just freeze. And then you could adjust the frequency and get them to go backwards, or you'd get them to go forward. You could create these kinds of effects with the strobe light.$$Okay.$$So what I had essentially was a frequency variable strobe light, that could be adjusted.$$So you'd pick up the action at a certain point and that's what you would see, even though the water is consistently dripping, you'd see the, you know--$$The little beads.$$Yeah, right, beads--$$Yeah, yeah.$$--at one point in time. Okay. All right, so this was your undergraduate thesis?$$Another one was a music synthesizer. That was another one that was fun to make.$$Okay.

Mary Harris

Health researcher Mary Styles Harris was born on June 26, 1949 in Nashville, Tennessee. She later moved to Miami. Her father, George Styles, was finishing his studies at Meharry Medical College, and her mother, Margaret, had completed her degree in business administration at Tennessee State University. In 1963 Harris was one of the first African Americans to enter Miami Jackson High School. Four years later, she graduated 12th out a class of 350. Harris graduated from Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) in 1971, and then enrolled at Cornell University where she Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship to study molecular genetics. She graduated with her Ph.D. degree in 1975.

In 1977, Harris became the executive director of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, where she raised money to fight sickle-cell anemia and was in a position to inform the public about this very serious condition. Harris was awarded a Science Residency Award by the National Science Foundation. After a period spent in Washington, D.C. completing her Science Residency, Harris became the state director of Genetic Services for the Georgia Department of Human Resources. From this position, she could also influence health policies nationwide, and her advice was sought by health officials in other states. In addition to work in Genetic Services, Harris was a part-time assistant professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta and at Atlanta University. To make life even busier, the couple's daughter was born during this period. Then, Harris became founder and president of BioTechnical Communications, which actively focuses on health issues by producing audiovisual materials on such health topics as breast cancer, an issue of major concern among minority women.

Harris’ interest in preventive health care has led her to get involved in new born screening of Sickle-cell disease and sitting on the Atlanta board of the March of Dimes. Also, she has produced television and radio shows, and she hosts a radio show, “Journey To Wellness,” and has developed a documentary, “To My Sisters... A Gift For Life.” Harris has received several awards for her research and advocacy, including the National Cancer Research postdoctoral fellowship, the Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship, and the Outstanding Working Woman from Glamour magazine.

Mary Styles Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 11, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.208

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/11/2012

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Styles

Occupation
Schools

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

Cornell University

Lincoln University

Miami Jackson Senior High School

First Name

Mary

Birth City, State, Country

Nashville

HM ID

HAR37

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

All that glitters is not gold

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

6/26/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue (Ribs)

Short Description

Health researcher Mary Harris (1949 - ) received her Ph.D. degree from Cornell University and is the founder of BioTechnical Communications, Inc.

Employment

BioTechnical Communications, Inc.

Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Public Health

Medical College of Georgia

Emory University

Atlanta University

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Morehouse College School of Medicine

Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia

WGTV

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mary Harris' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mary Harris lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mary Harris describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mary Harris describes her mother's life in Nashville

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mary Harris describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mary Harris talks about her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mary Harris describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mary Harris talks about her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mary Harris describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mary Harris talks about her early life in Miami, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mary Harris describes the sights and sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mary Harris describes life in the Brownsville community of Miami in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mary Harris describes her childhood in Miami

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mary Harris talks about the integration of Jackson High School in Miami

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mary Harris talks about the problems with her grade school education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mary Harris talks about television in the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mary Harris describes her childhood interest in science

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mary Harris describes her experience in middle school

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Mary Harris talks about African American political activism in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mary Harris talks about her father's death and the family's new business

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mary Harris talks about Liberty City, Miami

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mary Harris talks about President John F. Kennedy's assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mary Harris describes race relations in Miami in the 1950s and 1960s - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mary Harris describes the establishment of the Cuban community in Miami

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mary Harris describes race relations in Miami in the 1950s and 1960s - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mary Harris describes the Bahamian community in Miami

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mary Harris discusses Sidney Poitier

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mary Harris describes her experience at Jackson High School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mary Harris describes her science education at Jackson High School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mary Harris describes her decision to attend Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mary Harris describes her experience at Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mary Harris describes the loss of private medical practices

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mary Harris describes her decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree instead of a medical degree

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mary Harris describes how she earned a Ford Foundation fellowship

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mary Harris describes her experience as a doctoral student at Cornell University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mary Harris describes her experience as a doctoral student at Cornell University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mary Harris describes her Ph.D. dissertation research on the molecular mechanism of killer factor in yeast

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mary Harris talks about being married in graduate school

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mary Harris describes the challenges she experienced during her post-doctoral training at Rutger's Medical College

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mary Harris describes her role as an executive director of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mary Harris describes her work in STEM-related programming in collaboration with the National Science Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mary Harris talks about Dr. James Bowman

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mary Harris talks about receiving the Outstanding Working Woman Award

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Mary Harris describes her experience at the Georgia Department of Human Services

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Mary Harris talks about her documentary production, 'To My Sisters, A Gift For Life'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mary Harris describes her work in television and radio broadcasting on science and health

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mary Harris talks about the major health concerns in the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mary Harris describes her television production, 'Keeping Up With The Walkers' - part one

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mary Harris reflects upon her non-traditional career path in science

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mary Harris describes the impact of her work in science communication - part one

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mary Harris reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Mary Harris reflects upon potential post-retirement pursuits

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Mary Harris describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Mary Harris talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Mary Harris reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Mary Harris reflects upon the people who influenced her life

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Mary Harris talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

4$10

DATitle
Mary Harris describes the challenges she experienced during her post-doctoral training at Rutger's Medical College
Mary Harris talks about her documentary production, 'To My Sisters, A Gift For Life'
Transcript
Okay, okay. So now at Rutgers [University, New Brunswick, New Jersey], now did he, did you, you all moved to New Jersey--$$We moved to New Jersey because he had to go work for Bell Laboratories, which was in Homedel and I got a post-doc at Rutgers Medical School because I had a friend who had gone to Lincoln [University, West Chester, Pennsylvania] with me, who sat next to me at all my classes, we're friends to this day. And in the old days they took roll and they--his last name was Staley [ph.] and my last name was Styles. So we sat next to each other. And when he, he said I don't care what [James] Burney says, I'm going to medical school, which he did. And he was at Rutgers. And when I sent to see him and I said you know I'm having trouble finding a post-doc, he said let me take you to meet the dean. Lo and behold the dean was black, Harold Logan. And Harold Logan said we would love to have you here, I'll arrange the money. It happened just that quickly. And so I had a post-doc. And I went there and was very interested--I was assigned a project that was similar to something I had worked on as a graduate student. And there was a girl who had worked on this problem before me. So what happens is you, when you pick up a project, you go into the project and you replicate the experiments before you and then you move forward. And the replication shouldn't take you long because the work should have been validated, so you kind of replicate the work quickly so that you can make sure that the results are as they are, and then you move forward. Well when I tried to replicate the results, I couldn't get it to work and I was very arrogant. I had been through pure hell at Cornell [University, Ithaca, New York]. I felt I'm really smart. I mean I know a lot. Why can't I get this to work? I did the experiments for three or four months, I couldn't get them to work. Finally somebody said you need to check--I was working with tissue culture. And they said what you need to do is you need to check and see if the cell lines are contaminated. And I did. And the phenomenon that this girl before me had done her dissertation, gotten her Ph.D. on, and they had millions of dollars in grant money riding at the National Institute of Health [NIH] on this. It was an artifact of contaminated cell culture. And before I got there nobody had ever checked. Now this was a problem. It's a problem for a number of reasons. One, I had spent almost now a year has gone by before I really figure out what's, what the problem is here. Two, so I wasted a year. Post-docs are two years. I've wasted a year. Three, I need to tell somebody because it's no good. None of this, none of the papers that got published before I got there are good. None of the research grants, writing and NIH [National Institute of Health] are any good. It's all crap. The department chairman calls me in. He knows I know. He's trying to figure out what I'm going to do. And he says to me look, I know you've wasted a whole year. I, I don't want you to tell anybody about this. What I want you to do is you spend another year, I will write you a recommendation for any job you want anywhere and I will give you a lab assistant. So I was a post-doc. It's like the low, lowest of the low, right. And so you do all that stuff yourself. He says I'll give you a lab assistant, somebody to help you. That way it will take you half the time to do the work that you need to do 'cause you're going to have some help. So I said okay, fine. He said but you know don't, don't tell anybody about this, don't do anything. I'll just do this. I go back, I'm really happy now. I don't care, I don't care, I just want the lab assistant so I can get my work done, get my papers published and go. Well as it turns out, he never had any intention of giving me a lab assistant, never. Several months go by, no lab assistant. I go back to him and I say what about the lab assistant? He says well you know I want to give you the lab assistant, but we don't have any money. I went right downstairs to the dean and I said, I told the dean everything that happened. He was so outraged, he got the money for the lab assistant. I go back upstairs, I see the department chair and I say guess what? You don't have to worry about the money anymore. The dean gave me the money. He was so angry, he told me he said I will not write any letters of recommendation. I couldn't figure out what had happened. I thought I had done a good thing by going and getting the money. He said no, he said I'm not going to write any letters of recommendation for you. This has so angered me. How dare you go over my head? Blah, blah, blah, blah. So I finished up the post-doc, was able to get a job without his letter of recommendation and I thought that's it, I'm through with bench work. It's too much politics involved in this. What I didn't have an appreciation for because I was so young in my career, was that I really did have the upper hand, I just didn't know it. I knew, I mean I could have essentially sat down and said okay, here's what I want. Because they had this stuff going to NIH requesting money for stuff that was really an artifact. It was contaminated with mycoplasma [type of bacteria], the mycoplasma was absorbing the nutrients and that's why they were seeing what they were seeing. It had nothing to do with the cell line whatsoever. But I didn't know, I was young and he knew I was young. And he knew I didn't know how all of that worked, so he essentially took advantage of me. So I--anyway through with lab work, through with bench work and on to my first job, which is in Atlanta [Georgia]. And that's how I wound up in Atlanta.$Okay. Now in 1992, now this is a--so throughout the '80s [1980s], throughout the Reagan Administration and George Bush the first and stuff you were doing, you were working for the state of Georgia. In '92 [1992] you were the founder of, of Biotechnical Communications, Incorporated. Now so just kind of tell us how--$$So in a nutshell, I moved to California with my husband because of his work. And the commute from where we're living into Los Angeles is hellacious. And I say I cannot do this every day. And I start doing technical writing for biotechnology companies. And they tell me while I'm doing this writing, I'm looking at what they're doing and I see this small business innovation research grant. And I think why am I writing this for them? I write this for myself. I go back home and I'm watching TV, I was actually telling Patrice [Coleman, who is observing the interview] this story earlier. And I'm watching a talk show personality talk about breast cancer in black women and she's doing an awful job, it's, it's simply awful. And I say to myself you know, I think I could do a better job. Get on the phone the next morning and I called National Institute of Health [NIH]. I say to the guy you know here's what I want to do. He says let me send you an application. Again, there was no downloading, let me mail you an application. And he kind of walked me through how to fill it out and how to write it. And it got funded on peer review. And I--so I went on to produce this television special 'To My Sisters, A Gift For Life'. It was the first documentary done on black women and breast cancer in this country. And it went on to win some awards. But the television experience so wore me out I thought I cannot go back to this. And then I began to develop my business by writing these grants to NIH, getting the money to do the research around--the research issues around it, but also to do the productions. And so I went from television, to radio, from radio to internet. And so I've just recently finished an animated program based on health around African Americans called 'Keeping Up With The Walkers'. So that's how my business developed.$$Okay, okay. So these--say the, the first one, the breast cancer video 'To My Sisters'. Now where was it broadcast and how--$$BET [Black Entertainment Television] broadcast that.$$Okay.$$And it was interesting because by the time we got to the broadcast after producing the show, by the time we got to the broadcast, they actually did not have an appropriate timeslot. And so what they said was well we'll put it on, but we'll put it on on Sunday morning at eleven o'clock. I said that's when every black woman in America is in church. Why would you do this? But they did. And surprisingly by word of mouth, of course there's some people who were home will see, it was so popular that they had to rerun it. And then we took it after the rerun and we turned it into a video. And I think we wound up distributing about 8,000 of those things across the country because there had been nothing like it before. And it was just a--it was just wonderful to see it.$$Now did you consult with doctors around?$$Yeah.$$Okay.$$I did.$$Who were some of the--$$Tony Disher; he's a radiation oncologist. We--I worked very closely with the American Cancer Society and with the National Cancer Institute. So Oscar Streeter [ph.], Tony Disher, Otis Brawley [ph.]. Those are some of the people that we worked with.$$Okay, and there's several points bulleted here that the, that the video was to accomplish and can you maybe talk about what you intended to do with it?$$Well the goal was to get black women engaged in this dialogue about breast cancer and to get it out of the closet and into the public dialogue. We wanted to--wanted them to understand that even though we have a lower incidence, we have a higher death rate from the disease. We wanted to emphasize that mammography was key and to demonstrate why and how it works and why it works. So, so people will say well I had a mammogram five years ago, why do I need another one? Well we were able to actually demonstrate why an annual mammogram is so important of course because you see early changes in the breast tissue, you see those changes early. So you, you can find the change here as opposed to waiting to five years later when it's a full grown lump. Because by the time you feel a lump, it's been growing for about seven years. So you really are--it, it's great to be able to visualize it way, way when it's microscopic as opposed to waiting until you can feel--although it's nothing wrong with finding a lump that you can feel. The other thing is that treatment is important. It's not only important to get the mammogram, but to get the treatment. And where we tend to fall down now because the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia] has a very aggressive breast and cervical cancer screening program, is the treatment. So black women will say I don't want to, I don't want to do this because I can't afford the treatment. The treatment is going to make me sick, I need to work. I don't need to be home sick. I, I, I don't have anybody to keep my kids and I say to them who will keep your kids when you're dead? It's, it's a simple choice. Who will keep your kids when you're dead versus who will keep your kids now? So you need to see about doing this now. So the, so the problems that arise for black women are not so much money for mammograms, but money for treatment. That's where the biggest--I see the biggest challenge for black women.

Joseph Gordon, II

Research chemist and research manager Joseph Grover Gordon, II, was born on December 25, 1945 in Nashville, Tennessee to Joseph Grover, Sr. Juanita Elizabeth (Tarlton) Gordon. He is one of four children, including Eric Rodney, Craig Stephen, and Rhea Juanita. After briefly attending Atkins High School in North Carolina, Gordon went on to graduate from the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in 1963. Gordon earned his A.B. degree in chemistry and physics from Harvard College in 1966. He received his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970.

After finishing his graduate education, Gordon worked at the California Institute of Technology as an assistant professor in the Chemistry Department. In 1975, he began working as a research staff member at Almaden Research Center (IBM Research) and was promoted to interfacial electrochemistry manager in IBM’s Applied Materials Division in 1990. There, Gordon managed a research staff team and contributed greatly to the fields of materials science and electrochemistry. Between 1975 and 1994, Gordon established a program in fundamental electrochemistry that developed solid: liquid interface. From 2004 to 2009 Gordon Developed an exploratory battery materials research program and evaluated new battery technology for ThinkPad strategic planning in Raleigh, North Carolina and development in Yamato, Japan. In 2009, Gordon was hired as the senior director for the advanced technology group in at Applied Materials, Inc. Throughout his career, Gordon has published numerous research papers in leading scientific journals, such as Physical Review Letters and Sensors and Actuators A: Physical.

Gordon is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Chemical Society, Society for Analytical Chemistry, Electrochemical Society, and the National Research Council. Throughout his career, Gordon has shown a continued commitment to scientific research and has credited with twelve United States Patents. Gordon has been recognized many times for his work. In 1993, he was awarded the Black Engineer for Outstanding technical Achievement, and in 1993 the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers awarded Gordon the Percy L. Julian Award. Gordon and his wife, Ruth M., reside in San Jose, California.
Joseph G. Gordon, II was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 7, 2012.

Joseph Gordon passed away on September 13, 2013.

Accession Number

A2012.242

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/8/2012

Last Name

Gordon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Grover

Occupation
Schools

St. Vincent de Moor

Fort Bragg Elementary School

St. Benedict The Moor

Phillips Exeter Academy

Exeter Community Day School

Harvard University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Atkins Academic and Technology High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joseph

Birth City, State, Country

Nashville

HM ID

GOR03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere With Friends

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/25/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Jose

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Black-Eyed peas

Death Date

9/13/2013

Short Description

Chemist Joseph Gordon, II (1945 - 2013 ) is credited with twelve United States patents for developing solid liquid interface technologies and the battery materials research programs for IBM ThinkPad computers.

Employment

California Institute of Technology

Almaden Research Center (IBM Research)

Applied Materials (Firm)

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:814,9:1190,14:2130,28:2976,39:3822,50:9370,121:11610,163:17420,279:17770,285:19730,331:30894,479:63860,786:65260,810:73340,893:83560,1077:83980,1084:86100,1100:88684,1120:89832,1143:92760,1156:95440,1183:95740,1190:95990,1196:98690,1229:99810,1259:100290,1270:103258,1299:110940,1404:115034,1463:122566,1539:128827,1650:129229,1657:129698,1666:129966,1671:133090,1701:133986,1719:139562,1814:140588,1853:142530,1882:142750,1887:146580,1940:147180,1954:147630,1961:147930,1966:149330,1973$0,0:1588,17:1956,22:2416,28:7844,116:10696,157:11984,181:18640,216:19000,221:19810,233:24860,301:28412,385:28782,391:29152,397:40510,562:42148,594:42904,608:51476,703:51788,710:52048,716:53570,723:54290,733:55250,747:56050,755:58130,786:59170,800:63554,859:67031,964:67487,975:78613,1039:80365,1072:87592,1207:89052,1236:89709,1246:96964,1333:97391,1341:109470,1509:117185,1621:117493,1626:119716,1644:121648,1684:122476,1692:124776,1713:125420,1721:130940,1801:131400,1807:137323,1898:137737,1904:139669,1965:140704,2010:143050,2066:161640,2207:162690,2230:163530,2244:164580,2265:165140,2275:168872,2312:169116,2317:170641,2342:171312,2356:171922,2367:176518,2392:184729,2591:194893,2751:195177,2756:200786,2887:207174,3003:210216,3072:225960,3224
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joseph Gordon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joseph Gordon lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joseph Gordon describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joseph Gordon talks about his mother's growing up in Sumter, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joseph Gordon describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joseph Gordon talks about his father's growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joseph Gordon talks about his early childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joseph Gordon describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joseph Gordon describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Joseph Gordon describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joseph Gordon talks about growing up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joseph Gordon talks about the integration of the medical societies

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joseph Gordon talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joseph Gordon talks about his early interest in science

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joseph Gordon talks about his elementary school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joseph Gordon talks about his memories of the Civil Rights Era

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joseph Gordon talks about his grade school and his family's religious background

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joseph Gordon talks about his experience at Phillips Exeter Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joseph Gordon talks about his peers at Phillips Exeter Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joseph Gordon talks about his social life at Phillips Exeter Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joseph Gordon talks about his decision to attend Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joseph Gordon discusses his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joseph Gordon talks about his advisors at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joseph Gordon talks about his decision to pursue a career in chemistry

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joseph Gordon summarizes his experience at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Joseph Gordon talks about living in France

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Joseph Gordon talks about his professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Joseph Gordon describes his dissertation

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Joseph Gordon talks about his pre-doctoral fellowship from the National Science Foundation

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Joseph Gordon talks about his post-doctoral employment opportunities

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joseph Gordon talks about notable people at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joseph Gordon compares his experiences at the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joseph Gordon talks about his experience at the California Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joseph Gordon talks about electrochemistry and his work at IBM

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joseph Gordon talks about his professional awards

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joseph Gordon talks about his professional activities and awards

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joseph Gordon talks about the significance of NOBCChE

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joseph Gordon talks about his racial ambiguity

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joseph Gordon talks about his professional activities

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joseph Gordon talks about his career transition into more managerial roles

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joseph Gordon describes his technological contributions at IBM

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joseph Gordon talks about his career at Applied Materials Incorporated

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joseph Gordon reflects on his career

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joseph Gordon talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joseph Gordon reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joseph Gordon talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Joseph Gordon talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Joseph Gordon describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Joseph Gordon talks about growing up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Joseph Gordon describes his technological contributions at IBM
Transcript
Okay, we were talking about sights and sounds and smells. Now, Winston-Salem [North Carolina] has a pretty active black community there. Did you live in, I mean what was, how was Winston-Salem situated? I mean what--$$Okay, yeah, actually, it was a characteristic smell there every year. It was cured tobacco. And we actually used to put the stalks on the lawn for fertilizer. So the whole place smelled of, actually, it's a quite nice smell, I think, of, curing and cured tobacco. Winston-Salem at the time was about, slightly less than 50 percent black. It was, it was, quite physically divided. We lived in East Winston, which was the black part of town. We built a house on a, you know, in a circle [sic, cul-de-sac] at the end of 14th, 14th Avenue. The neighborhood was quite mixed. So in our circle, we had, the guy up the street from us was a, was a barber, next door was a physician, next door to him was a, were two college professors who taught at Winston-Salem, but TC at the time, now Winston-Salem State. There was a high school teacher, another high school teacher, a high school football and tennis coach, the high school music teacher and the elementary school music teacher. And then up the street further, you know, there were people who were, you know, there were a couple of policemen, you know, other--I'm not quite sure exactly what jobs, but they had nonprofessional jobs, the head of the [National] Urban League lived on the street, and it was, it was actually a fairly, fairly mixed sort of, sort of neighborhood, which was characteristic I think of black neighborhoods at the time. You couldn't, there wasn't enough space to have isolated, actually, you know, only professional people in one, in one area. And so we were able to walk to the school. We went to a Catholic school, and I was able to walk to high school. There was one black high school in town, one city high school and there was a county, black county high school.$Okay, okay, now, some place within your career at IBM, didn't you do something, didn't you develop a new battery or something for--$$Okay, yes, during this, about the same time, in early 2000, well, since 1990 I had been working on, with the "Think Pad" division on lithium ion batteries. And in the early, mid-'90's [1990s]--I'd have to go back and figure out the dates now, I had a small group that I actually was trying to develop a new lithium ion battery for, for portable electronics. After a while though, it became obvious, when I put together several business plans, that IBM wasn't interested in making batteries. So we, we stopped that effort also. But it turned out that the "Think Pad" people still needed technical assistance in setting standards for, for safety, the qualification standards, and there're a whole stream of new technologies coming on, and they needed somebody to help them evaluate the new technologies. So I stayed involved in that for a while. And then in the, around 2002, '03' [2003], there were a series of laptop fires that were quite publicized. And so all of the laptop companies then put together groups to investigate the cause. So every single incident was investigated. And I was the technical person for the IBM incident team who worked with the engineers in development and with outside consultants to do a failure analysis on each incident so we actually knew what was going on and could feed back to the battery manufacturer that they needed to correct some part of the manufacturing process. So that was a pretty intense operation for about, for two or two and a half years. Yeah, one year I remember I spent more than a 180 days in hotels, traveling to various places to perform the analyses.$$Now, that's between 2003 and 2005?$$I think, I think that was the time. I'd have to go back and look and--$$I remember the incidents, yeah, an Apple computer battery caught fire--$$Yeah, it caught fire at some conference--$$Yeah, and blew, yeah.$$--yeah, right, okay. And every time there was even a report of something at an IBM thing, we'd go and investigate it, whether it got into the news or not. And I also, at that stage helped with the, what series is it? I think it's the T-40 series. We put in a number of improvements in that battery pack to help reduce the severity of a failure of an individual cell, okay. And several people at research were involved in, in helping with that and to getting these things and doing simulations, doing calculations, doing experiments.$$So if it did get hot enough, it wouldn't actually flame up or something?$$Right, yes, so it wouldn't catch fire, and it wouldn't set off an adjacent cell. If you have a single-cell failure, that's usually not real serious. The big incidents happen when you have one cell set off another cell, sets off another cell. And you get all six or all nine go off.$$Okay, all right, now, but, okay, so--$$Yeah, so that actually took a lot of time. I was actually, at that time I was also the second-line manager. So that was a pretty, that was a pretty, how do I say it--fully occupied my time for a while.$$Hectic time, I guess.$$Very hectic, that's the word I'm looking for (laughter).

Percy Pierre

Electrical engineer Percy A. Pierre was born on January 1, 1939 in Welcome, Louisiana to Rosa Villavaso and Percy John Pierre. Pierre graduated from St. Augustine High School in New Orleans in 1957. Reverend Matthew O’Rourke, the school’s founding principal and president, served as one of Pierre’s mentors. It was in his senior year of high school that Pierre first decided to enter the field of engineering. Pierre received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1961. He stayed at the University and received his M.S. degree in 1963. Pierre went on to receive his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from John Hopkins University in 1967. He is the first African American in the country to earn a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering.

After graduation, Pierre began a series of successful posts in government and higher education. In 1969, Pierre was selected to serve as a White House Fellow and Deputy to the Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs. In 1971, he joined the faculty of Howard University as Dean of the School of Engineering. As dean, Pierre was instrumental in the founding of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME). In 1977, he left Howard University to serve as Assistant Secretary to the United States Army for Research, Development, and Acquisition, where he managed a $12 billion budget. Pierre started his own consulting business, Percy A. and Associates in 1981. He returned to academia in 1983, serving as President of Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University, and later as Honeywell Professor of Electrical Engineering.

Pierre came to Michigan State University in 1990 as Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. In 1995, he became a professor of electrical and computer engineering. Pierre has taught courses and participated in research in the areas of signals and systems, random processes, and signal detection and estimation. He believes his greatest achievement in his field to be the exploration of linear functions and their properties. In addition to his research, Pierre has also created numerous programs to increase the financial support and mentoring opportunities available for minority graduate engineering students; most notably creating the Sloan Engineering Program in 1998. Pierre has served on many boards, including the National Security Advisory Board and the Defense Science Board. He was honored with the Founders Award from NACME in 2004 in celebration of the organization’s thirtieth anniversary. He also received the Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2008. Pierre is married to Olga A. Markham and they have two grown daughters, Kristin Clare and Allison Celeste.

Percy A. Pierre was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 13, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.224

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/13/2012

Last Name

Pierre

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Schools

St. Joan Of Arc Elem School

St. Augustine High School

University of Notre Dame

Johns Hopkins University

University of Michigan

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Percy

Birth City, State, Country

Welcome

HM ID

PIE02

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring, Summer

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

1/3/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

East Lansing

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Electrical engineer Percy Pierre (1939 - ) was known for his work in signal processing, as well as for creating programs to increase opportunities for minority graduate engineering students.

Employment

Michigan State University

Prairie View A&M University

Department of the Army for Research, Development and Acquisition

Howard University

Percy A. Pierre & Associates

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

White House

RAND Corporation

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:3376,41:4366,56:5554,70:16690,260:17600,274:18860,294:19490,305:27932,412:28724,423:37768,536:49315,649:55187,742:56764,778:67030,921:73920,1020:77316,1052:77588,1085:78336,1095:79356,1171:79628,1192:88216,1288:91072,1315:97675,1417:98000,1423:106440,1532:109792,1595:112054,1632:118767,1759:122184,1844:125861,1870:127034,1900:128207,1925:132347,1997:132899,2007:133934,2030:135314,2061:135935,2071:137108,2104:137384,2109:155880,2292:156176,2297:160394,2345:162230,2369:165142,2384:165326,2389:180345,2428:198560,2666$0,0:9392,179:10596,194:13110,202:13638,207:16954,227:17451,236:18374,253:19510,269:20149,280:23604,346:24162,356:24472,362:25216,376:26084,392:26766,419:27386,430:27944,441:30730,451:33990,462:34390,467:35890,487:37790,524:40090,600:41190,618:44160,628:48160,667:48760,676:49560,685:51060,729:51960,741:53060,753:57228,771:60542,793:61334,805:62302,819:62742,825:65645,843:66302,854:66667,860:67324,871:69460,880:69816,885:70439,895:71151,904:72308,919:72753,926:75735,945:76255,957:76580,963:76970,971:77880,993:78400,1005:79050,1017:79570,1028:82820,1040:85214,1056:85846,1065:86320,1073:89050,1082:90206,1103:90478,1108:91800,1114:92250,1121:92850,1130:94125,1150:94425,1155:94875,1162:100274,1199:104462,1231:105476,1248:111212,1283:114470,1299:116045,1331:116420,1337:117620,1357:120020,1401:122730,1410:123500,1422:125449,1436:125821,1441:126844,1453:127495,1462:127867,1467:128425,1474:136174,1558:136650,1566:138334,1580:141042,1598:143460,1627:144135,1638:145260,1664:146010,1676:146310,1681:157806,1820:159834,1837:161960,1857
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Percy Pierre's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Percy Pierre lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Percy Pierre describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Percy Pierre talks about his mother and his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Percy Pierre describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Percy Pierre talks about the benevolent societies established by freed slaves in Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Percy Pierre talks about the Reconstruction Era in Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Percy Pierre talks about his father's family in Freetown, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Percy Pierre talks about his father's education and carpentry skills

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Percy Pierre describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Percy Pierre describes his family's life in Gulfport, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Percy Pierre describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Percy Pierre talks about his family

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Percy Pierre describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Percy Pierre describes his childhood neighborhood and house in New Orleans

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Percy Pierre describes the sights and sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Percy Pierre describes his experience in school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Percy Pierre describes his interests in science, math and basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Percy Pierre tells the story of Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Percy Pierre talks about learning problem-solving skills

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Percy Pierre talks about watching television as a teenager in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Percy Pierre talks about his mother teaching him to read

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Percy Pierre describes his experience and mentors in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Percy Pierre talks about his interest in basketball and music in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Percy Pierre talks about preparing to enroll in college

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Percy Pierre describes his decision to attend the University of Notre Dame

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Percy Pierre describes his experience at the University of Notre Dame

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Percy Pierre describes his studies and his mentors at the University of Notre Dame

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Percy Pierre talks about religion and science

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Percy Pierre describes his interest in signal processing as a master's student

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Percy Pierre describes his decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree at Johns Hopkins University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Percy Pierre talks about the events in the Civil Rights Movement and politics in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Percy Pierre talks about his Ph.D. advisors and dissertation research at Johns Hopkins University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Percy Pierre talks about being the only African American in his graduate program

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Percy Pierre talks about becoming the first engineering postdoctoral trainee at the University of Michigan

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Percy Pierre describes his decision to join the Rand Corporation in 1968

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Percy Pierre describes his experience at Rand Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Percy Pierre describes his experience as a White House fellow in 1969

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Percy Pierre describes how he became the dean of engineering at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Percy Pierre describes his contributions as the dean of engineering at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Percy Pierre talks about affirmative action and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME)

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Percy Pierre describes his impact on minority engineering education

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Percy Pierre describes his experience at the Pentagon as the assistant secretary for research and development

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Percy Pierre describes his experience in consulting and as president of Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Percy Pierre describes his experience at Michigan State University

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Percy Pierre reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Percy Pierre reflects upon his career

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Percy Pierre describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Percy Pierre talks about his wife and daughters

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Percy Pierre talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Percy Pierre describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Percy Pierre talks about becoming the first engineering postdoctoral trainee at the University of Michigan
Percy Pierre describes his impact on minority engineering education
Transcript
All right, so now, you did post doctoral studies at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan], right?$$Yes.$$1967 to '68 [1968]. How did you manage to choose the University of Michigan?$$Well, that's an interesting story. It turns out I'm told I'm the first postdoc student ever at the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. Here's how that happened. I was doing my research, loving it, loving it, loving it. My advisor said, "It's time for you to go, write it up and leave." I said, "I want to keep doing my research." And the thought of getting a job and not doing research full time was not what I wanted to do. So I decided well maybe if I get a postdoc, I could keep doing my research. I don't want to be a professor, because then I'd have to teach, I just want to do my research. So my advisor says well, "Let's go to this conference and talk to people and see if we can find--if any university is looking for postdoc, so we went to the Princeton [University, Princeton, New Jersey] conference and talked to people from [University of California,] Berkeley, from MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts], from [University of] Michigan, etcetera. There was man at the University of Michigan, his name is Bill Root, who is really the godfather of my field. So we approached him and said, you know--. My advisor approached him and said, "Percy Pierre would love to do a postdoc; do you have a postdoc?" He said, "No, I don't have one, and we don't have postdocs in engineering, but I think we should, and maybe you could be the first one." So he created a postdoc position. He went back to the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan and talked to the dean; the dean created a position for me, and I went to Michigan as a postdoc. I was the only postdoc in the college.$$So you were the first and only postdoc in the college?$$Yeah.$$And the first African American postdoc--$$Yeah.$$--To be sure.$$But I loved it, because I spent all day doing my research. There were a couple assistant professors who were hired at the same time, and they had to teach. Now, eventually, I did teach. I taught the second semester. They asked me to teach a course, I thought one course. But my postdoc year was one of the most satisfying years of my life, because I was very productive; I published five papers in that year.$$Okay, and what are the journals that you published in as an electrical engineer?$$Half of them were math journals, probability theory journals, and the other half were engineering, 'Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineering' [IEEE].$$You were there until 1968-$Okay, around 1977--$$Can I go back to the--$$Oh, sure.$$--the NACME [National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering; Pierre was instrumental in establishing NACME in 1973] thing, because this is very important to me. I told you that through the academy, we put together a committee of CEOs [Chief Executive Officers] who were going to do something about minorities in engineering and then the [Alfred P.] Sloan Foundation decided to invest in programs. They asked me to run the program, but I said I didn't want to quit my job at Howard [University, Washington, District of Columbia]; I was only dean for two years. I agreed to do it half time. So for two years, I commuted between D.C. [District of Columbia] and New York to the Rockefeller Center to run the program. And one day early in my tenure at the Sloan Foundation, I was walking up Fifth Avenue and thinking that this is a fabulous opportunity to make a difference. I had reached the point where I thought I was putting myself in a position to make a big difference, because all the elements were in place to create organizations that would change minority engineering for the next thirty years. And I realized that that was that opportunity. And what I'm saying is I knew this was it. And it took a lot of work; we had to create organizations, we had to guess what to do, but the results have been fabulous; the increase in minority engineering graduates has been spectacular over the next thirty years, and both at the bachelor's and master's level, so, if I looked at one of the biggest impacts of my life, it's that. That's the fulfillment of my promise to Father Grant when I was a freshman in high school [St. Augustine's High School, New Orleans, Louisiana].$$Okay.$$It's a big part of it.$$And, of course, NACME is still in operation, still doing good work?$$Right.$$Okay.

Lucius Walker

Mechanical engineer, engineering professor and education administrator Lucius Walker was born on December 16, 1936 in Washington, D.C. to Inez, a housewife and M. Lucius Walker, Sr., a public school teacher. After attending Armstrong High School for one year, he received a Ford Foundation scholarship to attend Morehouse College at the age of fifteen. In 1954, he transferred to Howard University to study engineering. Walker graduated with his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering in 1957. He continued his studies at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), earning advanced degrees in mechanical engineering, his M.S. degree in 1958 and his Ph.D. degree in 1966. During his studies, he served as an instructor at Howard University and Carnegie Institute of Technology.

In 1963, Walker joined the faculty of Howard University as an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; in 1967, he was promoted to an associate professor and in 1970, he became a full professor. A year later, he became chair of the department of engineering. In 1972, Walker co-founded and directed the Engineering Coalition of Schools for Excellence in Education and Leadership and co-founded the organization, Advancing Minorities' Interest in Engineering. In 1976, Walker became acting dean of the School of Engineering and a graduate professor of mechanical engineering. He was appointed dean in 1978. Throughout his career, Walker also worked for General Electric, Exxon, Ford Motor Company, and Harry Diamond Laboratories. He published many scientific research articles covering topics such as transportation systems analysis, fluid mechanics, and bioengineering. Walker also conducted aerodynamics research using airplane models and holds a patent on a Fluidic NOR device. Lucius Walker retired as dean in 2002 and became a professor emeritus at Howard University.

Walker has been recognized many times throughout his career including receiving the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard University. He served on the board of directors of Carnegie Mellon University; Junior Engineering Technical Society and the Center for Naval Analysis, as well as MIT’s Visiting Committee of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. Lucius Walker has two children and six grandchildren.

Lucius Walker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 14, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.054

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/15/2012

Last Name

Walker, Jr.

Marital Status

Seperated

Schools

Lovejoy Elementary School

Terrell Junior High School

Armstrong Technical School

Morehouse College

Carnegie Institute of Technology

Howard University

First Name

M. Lucius

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

WAL17

Favorite Season

Spring

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

The Future Is Now.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

12/16/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate Bars

Death Date

6/22/2013

Short Description

Mechanical engineer, engineering professor, and education administrator Lucius Walker (1936 - 2013 ) served as dean of the College of Engineering for thirty years and was a major advocate for minority science education.

Employment

Howard University

Carnegie Institute of Technology

Favorite Color

Cream, Crimson

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lucius Walker's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lucius Walker lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lucius Walker describes his mother's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lucius Walker describes his mother's family background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lucius Walker talks about his mother's life

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lucius Walker describes his father's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lucius Walker describes his father's family background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lucius Walker talks about his father's life

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lucius Walker talks about his father's interest in science

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lucius Walker talks about his father's growing up and education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lucius Walker talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lucius Walker describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lucius Walker talks about being an only child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lucius Walker describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lucius Walker describes his childhood in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lucius Walker describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lucius Walker describes his experience at Lovejoy Elementary School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lucius Walker describes his childhood interests

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lucius Walker talks about World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lucius Walker describes his childhood interest in sports

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lucius Walker talks about the Ford Foundation Early Admission Program

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lucius Walker talks about his classmates at Morehouse College in the Early Admission Program

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lucius Walker describes his experience at Morehouse College in the Ford Foundation Early Admission Program

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lucius Walker describes his decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lucius Walker describes his experience at Morehouse College and Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lucius Walker talks about his mentors and peers at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lucius Walker talks about HistoryMaker Percy Pierre

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lucius Walker describes his experience as a student at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lucius Walker talks about Carnegie Institute of Technology/Carnegie Mellon University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lucius Walker describes his dissertation research

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lucius Walker talks about how he met his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lucius Walker describes his decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree in engineering

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lucius Walker talks about his doctoral dissertation research at Carnegie Institute of Technology/Carnegie Mellon University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lucius Walker describes his experience as a faculty member at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Lucius Walker talks about his work towards increasing African American representation in engineering - part one

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Lucius Walker talks about his work towards increasing African American representation in engineering - part two

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Lucius Walker talks about his work towards the study of cardiac dynamics

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lucius Walker reflects upon engineering training in America

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lucius Walker reflects upon his career at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lucius Walker talks about the solar car competition

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lucius Walker describes his post-retirement work in science education

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lucius Walker reflects upon the awards that he has received

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lucius Walker reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lucius Walker describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lucius Walker reflects upon his career

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lucius Walker talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lucius Walker describes the Highland Beach community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lucius Walker describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lucius Walker describes his photographs - part one

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lucius Walker describes his photographs - part two

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lucius Walker describes his photographs - part three

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Lucius Walker talks about his father's interest in science
Lucius Walker reflects upon his career at Howard University
Transcript
My father [Lucius Walker, Sr.] and my mother's [Inez Landers] brother were both in the physics program at Howard [University, Washington, District of Columbia], in the graduate program.$$Okay, all right, now, is there a story behind your father's involvement in physics, you know. That's a--$$Well, I mean, he just always as a young person aspired to be a scientist, you know what I'm saying. At least that's what he told me. And then he sort of influenced my thinking as well, you know, and gave me some confidence that if it was something I wanted to achieve, I could, which I think was a very important dimension that's missing from some young and women's lives, you know, someone who tells them, look, you know, (laughter). My father, incidentally, my father never tutored me per se. What he did was always reassure me that within my own abilities I could do the work, which is kind of a different perspective from, you know, you think that maybe he taught me physics. He never taught me physics. He taught me that if I needed to do physics, I could, you know (laughter).$$Okay, you know, with the emphasis today, I know we've been talking about STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] education in the black community for years and how it's not, the hard sciences and some of the equipment to pursue them are not available in the black community--$$Um-hum.$$--especially in the old days when the one-room schools and people, you know. But, so I just imagine there's a story here on some level behind your father being even involved in physics in that, during that time period, you know. I mean, you know, Howard had a department but who inspired--did your father ever talk about how he was inspired to pursue physics?$$Well, it strikes me that he liked science before he ever came to Howard. But I may, you know, that's as best I recall, his telling me that, well, as a young person, like I said, I told you the story about, you know, he had entered a science fair and somehow, someone confiscated his science project. He was eternally upset about that even though he was, you know. I mean it was a thing of his past when I was growing up, you know. He was maybe thirty or forty years old and still talking about his high school science project (laughter), said someone had confiscated it, you know, so and unfairly so. So, he, he--but there's no science, I mean nothing beyond that I could really say at this time.$$Okay.$$That occurs to me.$Now, so what have been some of the highlights of your career at Howard [University, Washington, District of Columbia]? What would you say they are, if you could pick like three things maybe, as highlights?$$Well, one, I mean I've always enjoyed, you know, working with young men and women and, you know, seeing and I'm hoping, hopefully, opening up their vision, you know, for the future and especially as it relates to engineering opportunities. And, of course, Howard gave me a platform to pursue that concept and hopefully, I've inspired many people to, you know, be, pursue engineering careers and be successful in their careers as engineers. Secondly, I guess it would be, and I was real worried back--well, and National Science Foundation [NSF] introduced the idea of engineering education coalitions in the late '80s [1980s], I was concerned that, you know, we'd be a full part of that exercise of--the notion was to renew engineering education and its infrastructure with a special emphasis on increasing, you know, minority and women participating in engineering. But, but it involved more than just the, the people power issue. It also involved, you know, curriculum reforms and, and curriculum restructuring. So, you know, I took the initiative to organize a number of schools under what was titled 'The ECSEL Coalition'. And so finally, I was successful in bringing these schools together, which included MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts] and I had a (unclear), my son finished MIT. So that sort of gave me access. I, City College of New York, University of Washington, Seattle, Penn State [Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania], University of Maryland [College Park, Maryland] and Morgan State [University, Baltimore, Maryland]. That should be seven schools. So those were members of our coalition, and we were funded for, you know, fifteen million dollars for five years, over a five-year period to, to carry out these studies. Subsequently, we were refunded, although I was, you know, so you kind of know when to hold and you know when to fold (laughter). So I was sort of moving out of engineering education, and my directorship of Excel, and, but we were subsequently refunded for another fifteen million [dollars]. And actually, over the course of the program itself, we were funded maybe a couple extra million [dollars] here and there, you know, during the first five years. So I felt some pride that, you know, we were able to play some role, and our greatest contribution was, I think, introducing engineering in the beginning years of students' course of study. And so we had, we had some, that was the Engineering Design 'cause that was our theme, designed across the curriculum broadly conceived was the essence of engineering. And so, so a lot of schools now, you know, try to introduce students, you know, early on in their academic careers to, you know, doing engineering problems and doing engineering designs. And the one, the design we had, it was very exciting in the Washington metropolitan area. It was homeless shelters. You know, a lot of people sleep in the streets during the coldest month of the year, but the students, you know, came up with some low-budget, low-cost type of shelters that these, you know, people could live in. And they actually tested them in the streets here and there. But that has, you know, finally, we understood, you had to be a little careful about that (laughter) because of the liabilities involved in this, you know, in this society that we live in. But in any event, that was one of the contributions that we made, and then on the other end, well, the other end was, you know, maybe changing people's philosophy about how to teach, you know. Myself was, you know, more weighted to just the chalk-talk method as opposed to the whole idea of involving students in the teaching learning process, and, which I think, you know, we were fairly effective at different institutions in changing the philosophy, you know, of how to teach. Well, you've probably heard the Chinese proverb, what is it, "Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, and involve me, I understand". That was the concept. And so that was one of those things that we got across. And then the last thing was, you know, just to make all participating schools more conscious of the need to increase minority and women as engineering graduates. So those were the three by-products of the effort and, you know, one thing I came to understand was that when you talk about social change, you're talking about a big investment and a lot, lot in terms of, in terms of money and time, wow. It's unbelievably costly to realize social change, but, but, you know, I think all of our schools benefited from the program. And there's some evidence, because like I said, it was funded for an additional ten or, ten years or so.$$Okay.$$What else? Well, those were a couple of the major things that I was involved in, that I feel excited about the outcome. I guess that was the largest quote "program" that I, you know, had any role in developing.