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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.

Ilesanmi Adesida

Electrical Engineer Ilesanmi Adesida was born in 1949 in Ifon, Ondo, Nigeria. Adesida enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley and earned his B.S. degree in 1974; his M.S. degree in 1975; and, his Ph.D. degree in 1979. Adesida was awarded an IBM postdoctoral fellowship from 1979 to 1981. His research interests include nanofabrication processes and ultra-high-speed optoelectronics.

Upon graduation, Adesida served as a research associate at the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility and School of Electrical Engineering at Cornell University from 1979 to 1984. He then returned to Africa and accepted a position as the head of the electrical engineering department at Abubakar Tafawa Belewa University in Bauchi, Nigeria. In 1987, Adesida returned to the United States and worked at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) as a professor of electrical and computer engineering. In 1994, he was appointed as a research professor for the Coordinated Science Laboratory and as a professor in the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology. Adesida went on to serve in numerous academic and research capacities at UIUC. He served as the associate director for education for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Compound Semiconductor Microelectronics from 1990 to 1997. In 2000, Adesida became the director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory and was appointed as a professor of materials science and engineering. After serving as Dean of the College of Engineering from 2005 to 2012, Adesida was named provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. A mentor as well as a research manager, he guided the education of nineteen post-doctoral fellows, conferred thirty-four Ph.D. degrees upon his students, and supervised numerous undergraduate research projects.

Adesida has organized and chaired many international conferences, including the International Symposium on Electron, Ion, and Photon Beams and Nanofabrication; the TMS Electronic Materials Conference; and the Topical Workshop on Heterostructure Microelectronics. He also served as the President of the IEEE Electron Device Society and was named a Distinguished Lecturer from 1997 to 2002. In addition, Adesida was a co-founder of Xindium Technologies, and served as a member of the board of Fluor. He has been a member of the National Academies Board of Army Science and Technology since 2009 and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

For his many contributions and service, Adesida was awarded the IEEE EDS Distinguished Service Award in 2011. He was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Vacuum Society (AVS), the Optical Society of America, and the Materials Research Society. Adesida also received the Oakley Kunde Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and was elected as a University Scholar at UIUC. He was named as an Outstanding Alumnus of the EECS Department at the University of California, Berkeley in 2009.

Ilesanmi Adesida was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 7, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.093

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/7/2013

Last Name

Adesida

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University of California, Berkeley

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ilesanmi

Birth City, State, Country

Ifon

HM ID

ADE01

Favorite Season

Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nigeria, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Perfection is the enemy of good enough.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/15/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Urbana-Champaign

Country

Nigeria

Favorite Food

Plantains

Short Description

Electrical engineer Ilesanmi Adesida (1949 - ) , served as the Donald Biggar Willet Professor of Engineering and the Dean of the College of Engineering at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Employment

IBM

Cornell University

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

National Science Foundation (NSF)

IEEE

Favorite Color

Light Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ilesanmi Adesida's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ilesanmi Adesida lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about Christianity in Nigeria and the Yoruba religion

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about the ethnic groups of Nigeria

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about the pre-colonial government of the Yoruba

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about his primary schools

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about the education of his generation

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about Nigerian Independence

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about his secondary school education

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes Nigerian cultural life

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about Nigerian politics and the division between ethnic groups

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about the unification of Nigeria

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his secondary school interest in engineering

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his secondary school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes graduating from secondary school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about attendibg night school at the University of Ibadan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his time at the University of California at Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his experience at the University of California at Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about his mentors at the University of California at Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ilesanmi Adesida discusses his doctoral dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his time as a research associate at Cornell University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his time as a professor at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his professorship at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about his graduate students

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his research on gallium nitrite

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes his position at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes being vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes being vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes the African American programs at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes the importance of state colleges and universities

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ilesanmi Adesida reflects on his life and career

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ilesanmi Adesida describes the relationship between Nigerians and African Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ilesanmi Adesida reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ilesanmi Adesida talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

6$7

DATitle
Ilesanmi Adesida talks about the education of his generation
Ilesanmi Adesida describes his experience at the University of California at Berkeley
Transcript
You're in a special position, I suppose. You're part of this next generation that's being educated?$$Yeah, yeah, the generation that actually became educated, yeah, just--because previously, not too many had access to it, but there was a new government in the Western region, and the stuff was education, education, education. So they made, made it--not everybody went, but at least they made it bigger for, in terms of making sure that each town, each village had a school, yeah. So, so there's a rush, and there was the, the convincing people that, don't let the--I mean, you go to school during the week days and go help your parents during the weekend, go to farm. Okay, so that was, so they could at least live, parents could work out of field but on week days you, you went to school. Yeah, so that was something that was actually deliberately, let me see, canvassed all along because I remember waking up, people go like a town crier, you know, people go around four or five a.m. and try to wake people up and "Okay, your kids must go to go to school today."$$Oh, really--$$Yeah, instead of-- Because the kings will, when there are important things to do in town, you can a town crier go to the town and announce things at the top of their voice (unclear). So in those days, (they would?) saying "Okay, now, there's a new regime in town that you need to go to school," and all those things. So instead of huddling the kids, all the kids to farm, you try to preach to them to go to school.$$Were people excited about the chance to go to school?$$Oh, yeah, yeah, people were excited. Some people, their kids didn't go to school, but many parents told their kids, "You will go to school." And they made we went to school. If you don't go to school, you get, you get whooped, (laughter) gotta go, yeah--$$Okay--$$Because people saw it as a way to progress--$$Yeah.$$--okay, a way to move, to move away from what you are used to, but it will, bigger stuff.$$Now, did you think when you look back on it, did you think that that's why Islam and Christianity spread because they had a literacy associated?$$Well, they have literacy associated, especially Christianity, yeah, a lot of literacy associated with it, yeah.$$So, and the--(simultaneous)--$$And the--it depends on which country colonized people. If you look at the history of Africa. If you go to Congo, okay, the Belgians still want people to go to school, okay. So, where the British--$$The Belgians are probably the worse--$$The worst of them all, the Belgian's and the Portuguese.$$Slaughtering millions of people at a time, for rubber.$$Yeah, for rubber, yeah. But the British, the British sent some of their best people to be colonizers, okay, [University of] Cambridge [Cambridge, England, United Kingdom], [University of] Oxford [Oxford, England, United Kingdom]. So when they came, they came with what I call intellectual bent, that, "Okay, now, we've set this system up. Can we bring in the natives to train and take over some of these middle level jobs." Okay, so, so it was, so the British, I don't like colonialism, but they were more, what is it called? More egalitarian in terms of what they wanted to do in education. So you find that British colonizers around the world were reasonably educated, India, Hong Kong, all these places, Pakistan, reasonably well educated, yeah.$How, how were you treated [at the University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California] in '71 [1971]?$$Oh, see when you come from Nigeria where everybody's of the same skin color, and you've grown up to my age and you just go there, competition, that's all. You just--everybody may look different from you. You just want to compete and get your damn degree--excuse my language (laughter).$$So you weren't that concerned about social things--$$It didn't occur to me, really. It, I, not--it's only on reflection, going back and say, "Oh, this is what this guy meant. This is what this guy meant." Because I had a friend who came to me and said, "Oh, they said there's a black boy in the class that is getting 'As.'" I said, "Who is that?" "Oh, you." (laughter). It didn't occur to me. I was the only black face in the class (laughter), but it didn't, it didn't register in my brain. It did not register in my brain because you just come. I said, "Okay. I'm here for one thing, to get the damn,"--excuse my language, "Get the degree." (laughter). So you just, so you just see everybody as, okay, either as a collaborator or competitor, just compete. So that's the, that's--you come with the mindset, of whatever they put in your front, you're going to do it, and that's, that's what you see with people who come from foreign countries. I can see a difference between myself and my kids because they--$$Well, what did you think about Berkeley, California in 1971?$$In 1971, a little bit different 'cause there's, you see all the--I mean you came home--I've read about hippies and all those things in 'Time Magazine' and other things, but seeing them first time is a little bit different, yeah. So it was a, it was an interesting environment coming in the 19--around '71 [1971] because there was still--$$The Black Panthers were--(simultaneous)--$$The Black Panthers were there on campus, there was the Free Speech [Movement]. It was at a tail end, but it was still very active, Telegraph Street [sic, Avenue], Shy Talk and a whole lot of stuff. The, a couple of years later, there was the Patty [Patricia] Hearst, I've forgotten, Cinque, the--(simultaneous)--$$Right, right.$$Yeah, all those things, yeah.$$Symbionese Liberation Army--$$Symbionese Liberation Army, yeah, I was there at that time. Yeah, I was just down the street and watching it on tel--.$$I think D'Army Bailey was in City Council then, wasn't he?$$Who was he?$$D'Army Bailey. I think he was the first black City Council member?$$Yeah, yeah, the guy was a Congressman was, the tall guy.$$Ron [Ronald] Dellums.$$Ron Dellums, yeah, Ron Dellums, then he went to become mayor, yeah, yeah. Yeah, it was a, yeah, what's the name, this is--$$Oh, Angela Davis?$$Angela Davis, yeah, there was a big and George Jackson, those were big, big things going on when I got to Berkeley.$$George Jackson, right.$$Jackson, yeah.$$Now, was there a significant Nigerian community in--$$Oh, yeah, there was. There were, and I met a lot of Nigerians there. There were people who had come earlier and went to Berkeley and got Ph.D. in nuclear physics, chemical engineering and so on. They went back to Nigeria. So there was, I met a chunk there, and then people young as myself also had started coming at that time. So there was (unclear) common in the Bay [California] area.$$Okay, so did you kind of bond with that community?$$Bond with them, and that's how I found my wife (laughter). My wife came also in 1972, and we met, we met in 1972, and--$$Now, was she a student?$$She was a student in Mills College [Oakland, California]. That was a University of California, Berkeley at Mills. In Oakland, there was a women's college, women's college, yeah.

Peter Delfyett

Research scientist Peter J. Delfyett was born on March 8, 1959 in Queens, New York. He received his B.E. (E.E.) degree from the City College of New York in 1981 and his M.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Rochester in 1983. Delfyett then returned to the City University of New York and went on to graduate from there with his M. Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in 1987 and 1988, respectively.

In 1988, Delfyett joined Bell Communication Research (Bellcore) as a member of the technical staff where he focused on generating ultrafast high power optical pulses from semiconductor diode lasers. His research findings resulted in a number of important developments, including the world’s fastest, most powerful modelocked semiconductor laser diode, the demonstration of an optically distributed clocking network for high-speed, digital switches and supercomputer applications, and the first observation of the optical nonlinearity induced by the cooling of highly excited electron-hole pairs in semiconductor optical amplifiers. Delfyett has published over six-hundred articles in refereed journals and conference proceedings; been awarded thirty five United States Patents; and, is the sole proprietor of a license agreement which transferred modelocked semiconductor laser technology into a commercial product.

In 1993, Delfyett received a dual-appointment as a professor in the School College of Optics and Photonics and the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) at the University of Central Florida. From 1995 to 2006, he served as the Associate Editor of IEEE Photonics Technology Letters; was Executive Editor of IEEE LEOS Newsletter; and, served as the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics. In 2008, Delfyett was elected to serve two terms as president of the National Society of Black Physicists.

Delfyett has been awarded the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Faculty Fellow Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, which is awarded to the nation’s top twenty young scientists. U.S. Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine recognized him in 1993 as “Most Promising Engineer;” and, in 2000 with the “Outstanding Alumnus Achievement.” In 2010, he received the Edward Bouchet Award from the American Physical Society. Delfyett is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the IEEE Photonics Society.

Peter J. Delfyett was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 4, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.126

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/4/2013

Last Name

Delfyett

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

John

Occupation
Schools

City University of New York

University of Rochester

Martin Van Buren High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Peter

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

DEL10

Favorite Season

Christmas, Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

As you are walking across the path of life, if you come to a bump, step up.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

3/8/1959

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Orlando

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Asian Food

Short Description

Electrical engineer Peter Delfyett (1959 - ) University Trustee Chair Professor in the College of Optics and Photonics and the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers at the University of Central Florida, is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the IEEE Photonics Society.

Employment

University of Central Flordia

Telcordia Technologies

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Peter Delfyett's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett describes his mother's family background pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett describes his father's family background pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett talks about his parents' relationship and separation

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett describes his family's personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Peter Delfyett talks about growing up in an extended family household

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Peter Delfyett talks about the Delfyetts

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Peter Delfyett describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett talks about attending church during his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett talks about his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett talks about his childhood interest in paleontology and his questions about religion

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett describes why he chose to become an electrical engineer

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Peter Delfyett talks about fifth grade elementary school teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Peter Delfyett talks about his mentors in elementary and middle school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett talks about his high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett describes how he learned to play the drums

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett describes his band in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett describes graduating from high school and choosing to attend the City College of New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett describes his time as a student at the City College of New York

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Peter Delfyett describes when he chose to specialize in optics

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Peter Delfyett talks about his undergraduate optics class

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett describes why he came back to the City University of New York for his Ph.D.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett describes photonics

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett describes his doctoral dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett describes being hired by Bell Communications Research

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett describes his time at Bell Communications Research

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Peter Delfyett describes how he broke the world record for the shortest and brightest light pulse

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Peter Delfyett describes how he solved the clock distribution problem

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett talks about how it can take decades for an invention to be implemented

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett explains why he chose to become a professor at the University of Central Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett talks about his teaching and research at the University of Central Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett talks about research funding and mentoring students

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett talks about the future of technology

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Peter Delfyett talks about the future of holographic technology

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett talks about his latest patent

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett talks about his accomplishments at the University of Central Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett talks about his involvement in professional organizations

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett gives advice to African American students

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett reflects on his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Peter Delfyett reflects on his life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Peter Delfyett talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Peter Delfyett describes his hobbies

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Peter Delfyett talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

7$4

DATitle
Peter Delfyett describes when he chose to specialize in optics
Peter Delfyett talks about his teaching and research at the University of Central Florida
Transcript
You said when you were a sophomore, that's when you decided to get into the field of lasers.$$That's right.$$And what was it, again, that got you involved?$$And so the thing, you know, the thing which happened was--you know, you're going along. You're taking your classes, your physics, your calculus, your differential equations. And then you start taking your engineering core--circuit theory, digital systems control, communications, whatever it is. But then they allow you to take some, some elective classes, you know, within the discipline. And so, there are so many electives. How do you choose? And then my thinking is I want to sort of choose an elective where I'm going to have, like, a focus. I want to choose all of my electives in a certain area, so I can get a real strong expertise. So, I'm just sort of looking through the course catalog. It's like looking at the menu, and just kind of reading what the different courses are about. Some are about computer architecture. Some are about, you know, circuit systems and digital systems. But then I saw this one course about "Introduction to Lasers." And then you kind of read the description, and everything is fine. And you read the last line and it says, you know, "The fundamentals and introduction to fiber optic communications will be covered in this course." And you know, what occurred to me, is that there are sort of other areas within electrical engineering that are--at that time were not growing. And one in particular might be sort of power systems. How do you deliver power? Con Ed [Con Edison], and this and that, and the other thing. Not super high-tech, not saying it can't be. But then I'm thinking, you know, "Gee, if an area in engineering is so mature, you know, there's not a lot of area for growth and expansion." And so I'm thinking, "If I want to get an expertise in something, I want to pick an area which is very, very new and futuristic, so there's going to be a lot of chance for growth and expansion." Because as that field grows and expands, I can basically evolve within that, and manage to make my way through an entire career. That was my philosophy. Because if the field is too narrow and not growing--if things get tight and there's nowhere to grow--you know, where do you go? It's not clear. And it wasn't clear to me at that time. And so, that's how I started. And so, the other thing which really got me going, I took a look at the elective classes. It said electromagnetic theory. So I said, well, I'm already taking that. But another class was, you know, 'Introduction to Optics,' you know, physical optics. So I said, that was a prerequisite, not necessarily--excuse me--it wasn't a requirement, but it was sort of nice if you had taken it. So, the next semester I went and I took the optics class. And the guy who was teaching that is a famous laser physicist, who literally--you know, after having the class with him--that was it, I'm going to school to get a Ph.D. There was no turning back at that point. They had me hook, line and sinker.$$Okay.$How was your, I guess, your time split here [University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida], in terms of research and teaching responsibilities?$$Sure. And so, every faculty--we teach graduate courses. Or at least when I first came to CREOL [Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers], it was primarily an academic institution and research institution that focused on graduate training and education. So, all faculty teach graduate level courses in the area of optics, and we're all expected to do research. We're expected to go out and hustle for contracts and grants, of which from that money we then pay the graduate students' salaries, their tuition. We use the money to buy the equipment to allow us to do the job. So we're like standard faculty in most other departments. We have to teach, we have to do research, and we have service. Your service duties are either related to the department and/or college, and your professional service as a scientist with professional societies, etc. So, we're like just like normal faculty--teaching, research and service.$$Okay, okay. So, what have been some of your research projects here at [University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida]--?$$So here, what I've done is I've tried to build a research group with a vision that if we want to make an impact on areas of application-- that what I wanted my philosophy to be is not what I'll call, device push-- like "Oh, here's a device, I think you need to use it." Well, like I'm pushing it on you. I prefer to have the application pull philosophy, meaning that let's take a look at what applications are out there that need some kind of advance. And then see if our research can play a role and allow our research to be pulled in that direction, so that if we're successful in our research, we can make some headway in that application. And so with that in mind, I've tried to divide my research area up into three groups--what I'll call sort of the fundamental physics--where we like to use, you know, short pulses of light and see how they interact with matter. That's the fundamental physics. We do that in semiconductors. And what we try and look for are new physics, so we can perhaps see new effects. So, we can then use that knowledge and then go into the clean room and make devices which can exploit these interesting effects, so these devices will have new functions. So, I study physics based upon the new things that we learn. We go up step up into the clean room. We fabricate new devices which are going to exploit those physics. So, these new devices will exhibit new functionalities. And with these new functions, I then take these devices that can show you functions, and I apply it in systems. And the systems are related to its communication and signal processing, making the internet go faster, etc. And when I see these new systems work faster, I say, "Great, we're successful." We patent along the way, we write papers, we give talks. And then once we do that, we say, "Okay, great, we solved that problem. What's the next problem?" And then we go back down and study new physics, to make more devices to make better impacts. So, instead of this thing being vertically integrated, I like to sort of say we're cyclically integrated between fundamental physics, devices and systems. And at each level there needs to be good communication back and forth between the fundamental physics and the systems area, between the systems and device area, and between the physics and device area. So, everybody knows what they're doing, and talking to each other so we can all learn from each other and push the overall vision of photonics forward. That's sort of my philosophy. That's how I do it. And again, we've made impacts in the area related towards secure communications, compact laser systems that are useful for material processing or drilling holes in walls, making lasers operate with more precision in atomic clocks, etc.

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.

Andrew Williams

Electrical and computer engineer Andrew B. Williams was born in Junction City, Kansas to parents John M. Williams and Yuson Kim Williams. After receiving his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas in 1988, Williams worked briefly in engineering. He then enrolled in Marquette University and graduated from there in 1995 with his M.S. degree in electrical and computer engineering. Williams was awarded a GEM doctoral fellowship to attend the University of Kansas where he went on to earn his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI) in 1999. He was the first African American to graduate from the University of Kansas with a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering.

In 1999, Williams was appointed as an assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Iowa where he started RAMP-IT, a computer and robotics day camp for underrepresented students. After arriving at Spelman College in 2004 as an assistant professor in the computer and information sciences department, Williams founded the SpelBots, the first African American women’s competitive robotics team to compete in the international RoboCup. In 2005, his team successfully competed in the RoboCup U.S. Open and qualified for the International RoboCup championship in Osaka, Japan. Williams took a sabbatical from Spelman College in 2008 when Apple, Inc. Co-Founder and CEO Steve Jobs appointed him as Apple’s first senior engineering diversity manager. Williams returned to Spelman College from 2010 to 2012 to serve as chair of its computer and information science department. He also served as the primary co-founder on several other projects in order to broaden participation for minorities in STEM education, such as the Advancing Robotics Technology for Societal Impact (ARTSI) alliance, the Advancing Spelman’s Participation in Informatics Research and Education (ASPIRE) project, and the Computer and Robotics for African American Students (CARE) project. Williams’ book, Out of the Box: Building Robots, Transforming Lives (2009), chronicles his work in STEM education. In 2012, Williams was appointed as a tenured full professor and the John P. Raynor, S.J., Distinguished Chair of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Marquette University. He also became the founding director of Marquette University’s Humanoid Engineering & Intelligent Robotics (HEIR) Laboratory.

Williams and his SpelBots have been featured in media publications and outlets such as CNN American Morning, CBS Evening News, Black Enterprise magazine, JET magazine Ebony magazine, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and the Atlanta Daily World. Not only was Williams individually recognized by Black Money magazine as one of the “50 Most Important African Americans in Technology” in 2010, 2011, and 2012, but he is also received the GEM Consortium Alumni Mentoring Award and the Marquette University Young Engineering Alumni Award. Williams and his wife, Anitra Williams, have three children: John Williams, Adrianna Williams, and Rosa Williams.

Andrew B. Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 9, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.107

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/6/2013

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

B.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

University of Kansas

Marquette University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Andrew

Birth City, State, Country

Junction City

HM ID

WIL62

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Saint Lucia

Favorite Quote

Success is never final. Failure is seldom fatal. It's courage that counts. - Winston Churchill

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Birth Date

11/10/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bulgogi

Short Description

Electrical engineer Andrew Williams (1964 - ) the first African American to graduate from the University of Kansas with a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering and founder of the SpelBots, the first African American women’s team to compete in the International RoboCup Championships. He is also the John P. Raynor Distinguished Chair of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Marquette University.

Employment

Marquette University

Spelman College

Apple, Inc.

University of Iowa

University of Kansas

General Electric Company

Allied Signal Aerospace Co.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Andrew Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Andrew Williams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Andrew Williams describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Andrew Williams talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Andrew Williams talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Andrew Williams talks about his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Andrew Williams describes his father growing up in the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Andrew Williams details his father's time in the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Andrew Williams talks about his father's reaction to racism

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Andrew Williams describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Andrew Williams talks about the difference in age of his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Andrew Williams describes his earliest memory

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

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Andrew Williams describes his siblings and his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Andrew Williams talks about growing up poor in Junction City, Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Andrew Williams talks about his childhood interest in engineering

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Andrew Williams talks about the infamy of Junction City, Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Andrew Williams describes Junction City, Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Andrew Williams describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Andrew Williams talks about his siblings' education and their support of his education

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Andrew Williams talks about his father's support of his education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Andrew Williams talks about racism in Kansas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Andrew Williams talks about joining the Free Methodist Church pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Andrew Williams talks about joining the Free Methodist Church pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Andrew Williams talks about his parents' challenges due to their interracial marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Andrew Williams talks about his elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Andrew Williams describes his childhood science experiments

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Andrew Williams describes his first experience with computers

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Andrew Williams talks about basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Andrew Williams describes getting his first computer and computer education in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Andrew Williams talks about his interest in engineering

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Andrew Williams describes his decision to attend the University of Kansas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Andrew Williams talks about his college counseling in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Andrew Williams describes his high school math courses

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Andrew Williams talks about his extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Andrew Williams describes the lack of college mentoring from his parents

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Andrew Williams recalls visiting the University of Kansas for a weekend during high school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Andrew Williams talks about the Student Counsel for Recruiting, Motivating, Educating Black Engineers at the University of Kansas

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Andrew Williams describes why it took him five years to graduate from the University of Kansas

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Andrew Williams talks about his mentors at the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Andrew Williams describes his mission trip to Cochabamba, Bolivia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Andrew Williams describes working for Allied Signal Aerospace Company

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Andrew Williams describes going to the University of Kansas for graduate school

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Andrew Williams talks about being hired by General Electric and transferring to Marquette University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Andrew Williams talks about his decision to pursue a doctoral degree

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Andrew Williams describes why he chose the University of Kansas for his doctoral degree

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Andrew Williams talks about the personal challenges he faced during his doctorate education

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Andrew Williams talks about his doctoral dissertation pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Andrew Williams talks about his doctoral dissertation pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Andrew Williams talks about his shift in research from software agents to humanoid robotics

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Andrew Williams describes how he became a professor at the University of Iowa

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Andrew Williams talks about the relationship between science and religion

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Andrew Williams describes his research at the University of Iowa

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Andrew Williams reflects on the influence of his research on the medical field

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Andrew Williams describes leaving the University of Iowa to teach at Spelman College

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Andrew Williams talks about making a Robocup team at Spelman

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Andrew Williams describes qualifying for the Robocup U.S. Open in 2005

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Andrew Williams talks about the Spelman robotics team competing in the 2005 Robocup U.S. Open

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Andrew Williams describes the Spelman robotics team competition in the 2005 International Robocup

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Andrew Williams talks about the Spelman robotics team tying for the championship match in the 2009 International Robocup

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Andrew Williams talks about the goal of Robocup

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Andrew Williams talks about the discrimination the Spelman College robotic team faced in Bremen, Germany

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Andrew Williams describes his involvement in STEM education while at Spelman College

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Andrew Williams talks about the grants and other initiatives he was involved in at Spelman College

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Andrew Williams describes how he was recruited by Apple

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Andrew Williams describes being Apple's first Senior Engineering Diversity Manager

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Andrew Williams talks about his book 'Out of the Box: Building Robots, Transforming Lives'

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Andrew Williams talks about staying in touch with Steve Jobs

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Andrew Williams explains why he left Spelman College to become a professor at Marquette University

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Andrew Williams talks about his research on humanoid robotics pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Andrew Williams talks about his research on humanoid robotics pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Andrew Williams talks about the need for underrepresented engineers

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Andrew Williams reflects on his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Andrew Williams talks about his family

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Andrew Williams talks about he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

7$3

DAStory

7$9

DATitle
Andrew Williams talks about the Spelman robotics team tying for the championship match in the 2009 International Robocup
Andrew Williams describes getting his first computer and computer education in high school
Transcript
That was in 2005, right, when you went to the international competition? And how many, I mean how--when are the international competitions? Are they every four years or something or every so many years?$$No, they're every, they're every year. So the next year we went to Bremen, Germany and competed. The next year, 2007, we competed--it was at Georgia Tech [Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia], but we just did the, the four legged robot technical challenge. We tied for second in the passing event. And that was a freshman, Whitney O'Banner that was the main contributor on that software. 2008 [2008] we qualified. We had two freshman, Janesa Keels and Jasmine Miller who helped us along with Whitney to qualify for the four legged robot competition in Sugo, China. We ended up not going because of travel concerns. And then the next year in 2009, was the first year that we got the two legged humanoid robots and the league that we competed in was called the standard platform league. They had went from four legged robots where everyone buys their, the same robot and the, the challenge is in programming the AI and so forth in the software. So that year we competed in the Robocup Japan Open and we had five matches against Fukuoka Institute of Technology cause at that time not very many people had the two legged humanoid robots. We were able to get them through a Title Three grant from the government as just part of our--upgrading our computer science curriculum. And we competed against Fukuoka Institute of Technology in Osaka, Japan. Here we are--think it's five years later, or less, and we tied them in the championship match. And it turned out we had to go to a penalty kick shootout and we came this close, this close to beating them. And I don't know what happened, but on the last penalty kick that we had, we thought we were going to make it and one of the judges picked up our robot just before it was about to kick. So we thought that was odd.$$Was that a, a--$$We don't know if that was intentional or not.$$Okay.$$But they said that we ran out of time. But I think what happened is they started the clock too early. So we went to the judges, no, we went to the awards ceremony and you know I heard them calling off the team names and then when they talked about--when it was time for our match, they didn't call our name, you know that we had tied in the championship match. So we were real puzzled and when we went back to the person that organized the, the match for the, you know the humanoid robots. And he, he got upset and raised his voice at me and you know, our social provost for research at the time, Lily McNair was there and the students were there and he's almost like yelling at me. And, and then so we went to the overall organizer and they reluctantly eventually gave us a certificate that said that we tied in the championship match, you know.$$Well what was he yelling about? What was he saying? What was his--$$Well it was, it was interesting because one of the students, Jasmine had been studying Japanese and she said that they were making fun of us. You know the announcer. He was the local organizer. And, but it was in Japanese. And he was saying, you know I don't even really recall what he was saying or if I could understand what he was saying. But it was clearly not appropriate.$$But it was, was his point then that you should not have been able to receive your recognition because you're a African American team of women from the United States?$$Well I don't know that that's why he did it, but it, it--to see women doing things like that--well it's a different culture. So I, I can't tell you exactly why he did that. But it's a, it's a different culture. And then on top of that being African American. And what I told the students was you know, take this is as a learning moment, there's still global racism and sexism and you're trailblazers, you know for young women that are going to come after you. And, and this wasn't the first time, you know, that something like this had happened. When we went to Bremen, Germany to compete. It was around the time the, the soccer World Cup is.$I want to say also about computers was after seeing the computers that my brother used, also his girlfriend, Marian, worked in the, I guess it was called the Computer Building [University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas], I can't remember what it was called. But it had the big mainframe for the campus, and that was the place where you--computer programs were written on punch cards at that mainframe. And people would turn in their punch cards and then they'd run them overnight. And then in little boxes, you know the printout, the results would come on these sheets of paper. But she worked there, so I was, I was fascinated by computers and video games so much so that I started looking to see how I could get my own computer when I was in high school. And my dad, he got laid off, so he got on Social Security. So I think part of my junior year and my senior year I, I got a Social Security check as a dependent of his. So this was enough to buy a computer. So I researched computers, cause there was a magazine called Byte Magazine. And I decided the best one with the, the one with the best graphics and best video games at the time was called Atari. There was Atari 400 and Atari 800, and my first computer that I bought was an Atari 400 and Atari 400 had a flat keyboard, just a membrane, plastic. But I had, had, added onto that a keyboard and one of the reasons why I bought the Atari is they, they had a game called Star Raiders, which was the closest thing to the Star Trek game, but this had really great graphics. So it was like the, the Star Trek game, but with great video graphics, and it would come on a cartridge, a ROM [Read Only Memory] cartridge and you would put it in there.$$What year is this? This is, this is--$$That was probably '82 [1982].$$1982?$$Yeah.$$And you're what, you're in--$$Eleventh grade.$$Eleventh grade.$$Yeah. It was either eleventh grade or my senior year. So and then I, you know, you had the ability to write simple basic programs. And also around that time, it was either my tenth or eleventh grade year, I was put into the gifted program and I think they were just starting to have a gifted program in high school.$$This is at--$$Junction City Senior High School [Junction City, Kansas].$$Okay, okay.$$And all I remember is there was three of us in that class I think. And one was Hispanic and I think the other was a girl. And I remember we had a TRS80 computer. That must have been, thinking that must have been my sophomore year. They had a, a Radio Shack or Tandy TRS80, which some people have called the Trash-80. And we did some computer programs with that and some basic programs. And then our school got some Apple 2es with a little monitors that, you know I guess had the green lettering. And I remember not only doing word processing, but the teacher teaching us how to program. And that must have been around my senior year.$$Now was this a little self-contained Apple?$$No, so that came out later, in '84 [1984], the little self-contained.$$The Apple was.$$The one that was like the little box, the Macintosh. But before that it was just like the keyboard, you know it had the, the main motherboard on it, and then a separate monitor.$$Okay.$$But they were nice looking computers. But I remember Junction City getting those.

Marcus McCraven

Electrical engineer Marcus R. McCraven was born on December 27, 1923 in Des Moines, Iowa to parents Marcus and Buena McCraven. After graduating from high school, McCraven enrolled at Howard University but was drafted into the U.S. Army during his first year of college. He was listed as an expert rifleman but went on to serve as a supply clerk with an engineering regiment in Papua, New Guinea and in the Philippines. Returning to the United States, McCraven continued his studies at Howard University and graduated with his B.S. degree in electrical engineering.

Upon graduation, McCraven was hired at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. After six months, he was promoted to electrical engineer and became the project leader of the Nuclear Systems Branch. McCraven soon moved to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California where he worked on the hydrogen bomb. His area of expertise on the project was diagnostics and he was instrumental the early development of nuclear weapons, including nuclear tests on Bikini Island and in Nevada. McCraven then joined the research staff at the California Lawrence Radiation Laboratory; and, in the 1960s, he left California and moved to Connecticut where he began to work for Phelps Dodge. In 1970, he joined United Illuminating Co. as the director of environmental engineering and was later promoted to vice president.
McCraven has also served as trustee at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. In 2011, McCraven received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut.

McCraven lives in Hamden, Connecticut with his wife, Marguerite McCraven, a former social worker in the Hamden Public Schools. They have three children: Paul McCraven, the vice president of community development at New Alliance Bank; Stephen McCraven, a musician living in Paris, Carol McCraven.

Marcus McCraven was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 8, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.069

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/9/2013

Last Name

McCraven

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

University of Maryland

University of California, Berkeley

Bowman High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marcus

Birth City, State, Country

Des Moines

HM ID

MCC14

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Iowa

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Connecticut

Birth Date

12/27/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Haven

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Southern Food

Short Description

Electrical engineer Marcus McCraven (1923 - ) is an electrical engineer who worked to develop the hydrogen bomb at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Employment

United Illuminating Co.

Phelps Dodge Electronics

University of California, Livermore

Naval Research Laboratory

Favorite Color

Blue, Gray

Timing Pairs
0,0:10795,70:11731,79:52100,293:52856,304:55895,316:58812,338:69982,477:70510,483:81578,640:86666,718:89474,747:90878,802:102840,890:103608,903:106782,912:113561,1003:117805,1064:118470,1093:128110,1206$0,0:535,3:3460,58:4955,68:14740,159:20185,210:24516,286:24846,292:25374,302:25902,308:26364,317:27816,344:28080,349:34190,387:39360,410:39640,415:41040,445:44222,507:44768,516:45080,521:45470,527:46250,539:48500,544:48850,550:49760,572:50460,586:50810,592:51090,597:52280,613:53400,643:59123,709:62738,749:66728,790:67184,795:73694,838:73998,843:74378,849:76768,864:77058,870:77406,878:77638,883:77986,890:81372,907:84187,926:84908,934:91842,945:92874,960:99972,1032:100382,1038:103088,1091:111000,1116:111630,1124:114134,1150:114544,1156:114954,1162:115282,1167:116594,1184:120933,1196:121788,1216:123850,1228:124870,1243:125210,1248:126400,1268:126825,1274:128440,1291:128865,1297:129460,1305:129800,1310:130650,1323:133285,1364:134560,1388:134900,1393:135665,1403:142100,1422:142504,1427:143211,1435:143817,1446:146050,1464:146298,1469:146546,1474:147042,1490:150788,1516:151397,1528:151919,1535:156206,1560:157026,1566:159990,1582:160782,1598:162739,1610:163640,1627:163852,1632:164329,1642:164647,1650:166385,1659:167335,1668:167715,1673:168190,1679:168665,1685:169235,1692:174543,1729:175035,1734:176388,1746:184441,1814:188860,1854:189409,1864:189836,1873:190263,1880:192138,1897:206450,2019:207278,2029:214508,2108:215712,2128:230778,2236:236140,2290:243036,2388:247620,2455:254730,2556:255555,2571:255855,2576:260030,2639:260450,2647:260750,2653:260990,2658:263162,2678:264410,2693:264794,2698:265370,2708:265946,2715:268620,2722:273377,2744:274445,2760:276047,2786:277560,2800:278094,2807:278539,2813:281465,2829:281717,2834:281969,2839:282410,2852:284552,2886:284930,2893:285434,2905:285875,2913:286820,2934:293410,2947:295250,2959:297160,2973:299160,3002:299480,3007:304310,3083
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marcus McCraven's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marcus McCraven lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marcus McCraven describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marcus McCraven talks about his mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marcus McCraven talks Port Gibson, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marcus McCraven talks about his parents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marcus McCraven talks about his family during the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marcus McCraven describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marcus McCraven talks about his father

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marcus McCraven describes how his parent's met

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

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marcus McCraven describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marcus McCraven describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marcus McCraven describes the beginning of his interest in engineering

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marcus McCraven talks about his activities as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marcus McCraven talks about his junior high and high schools

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marcus McCraven talks about living with his aunt while in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marcus McCraven talks about his interests in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marcus McCraven talks about his time at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marcus McCraven describes his time in the Army during World War II pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marcus McCraven describes his time in the Army during World War II pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marcus McCraven describes the racial prejudice he faced in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marcus McCraven describes his time at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marcus McCraven describes meeting his wife Marguerite

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marcus McCraven describes his patent on a high current photodiode pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marcus McCraven describes his patent on a high current photodiode pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marcus McCraven describes his work at the University of California at Berkeley Lawrence Radiation Laboratory pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marcus McCraven describes his work at the University of California at Berkeley Lawrence Radiation Laboratory pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marcus McCraven talks about the hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marcus McCraven talks about the hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marcus McCraven describes nuclear testing pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marcus McCraven describes nuclear testing pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marcus McCraven describes Operation Plowshare

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marcus McCraven talks about the Phelps Dodge Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marcus McCraven describes being hired by the Phelps Dodge Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marcus McCraven talks about the politics of nuclear weapons

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marcus McCraven talks about being a charter member of the advisory committee for establishing the Environmental Protection Agency

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marcus McCraven describes the licensing of a low-sulfur coal burning plant for United Illuminating Company

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marcus McCraven talks about his involvement in several organizations

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marcus McCraven talks about the work of painter Rudolph Zallinger

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marcus McCraven talks about William Strickland and Carlton Highsmith

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Marcus McCraven talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Marcus McCraven describes his travels pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Marcus McCraven describes his travels pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Marcus McCraven reflects on his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Marcus McCraven describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Marcus McCraven talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Marcus McCraven describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
Marcus McCraven describes the beginning of his interest in engineering
Marcus McCraven describes his patent on a high current photodiode pt. 2
Transcript
Other thing I had influence for going into engineering because in the extended family, my father's sister--my father's sister's husband's sister married Archie Alexander. And Archie Alexander was a noted civil engineer. He had the company Alexander and Repass, and they built, while I was a student at Howard, his company built the big cloverleaf intersection, you know, where you go off the highway in all different directions.$$In D.C.?$$Yeah.$$Okay.$$So I--$$So this is a black construction company?$$--Yeah. It's a black construction. The senior partner, they had two partners, Alexander and Repass, Repass was white, Alexander was black, he finished Iowa State [sic, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa]. So that was, you know, being at Howard [University, Washington, D.C.], having that job when I was at Howard, I was certainly in a position where I took classmates down to the construction site. I knew them. So I had a little in--I knew the extended family type person there who was the president of the company. It kind of makes you feel kind of good-$$Yes, yes sir.$$--as a student, but that was one of the reasons I said I was going into engineering, but I decided not to go into civil.$So what you patented was not only just a photodiode but a process?$$Most of these units give only various little current. It exists. A flash of light that's lasting for so many nanoseconds, how much light is that, you know, you can see it. The photodiode can see it, but it's such a small amount of light that the signal that's generated is very small and if you were going to record that, you have to have very sensitive recording material, even if you got an oscilloscope on the end. But when you got ready to test these devices you were miles away. So that little signal that's going back through coaxial cable all the way back can be wiped out. So you needed, you needed something that was going to give you big currents. So this was, so this photodiode that I patent was called high current photodiode. That means it was one that would deliver-- you could look at very bright lights and get a signal and see the coaxial cable, the fifty ohm type cable just one foot had so much attenuation, two feet, and here you are miles back, because your equipment got to be away from the blast. So we had device sitting here monitoring equipment right there with miles of coaxial cable going back to a recording station and this is not an easy thing to do, to get those signals and it's those signals that gave you the reaction history of the device. This is what the physicists who were designing them, they come up with certain design and configuration and said they think this will work. What we did in the testing and system division was to take the first design, take it into the field, fire it and look at actually what happens. Look at what the reaction that takes place during that explosion, and we can then feed that information back to the physicists and they said, "Oh, now we know we should do this and make corrections." That's one advantage that the United States had on in this whole development program, we did--we got a lot of information from testing and though you had to have detectors and recording equipment, and that's how I got involved with the Naval Research Lab, I worked with developing the detector. And the ones I designed we used for one of the detonations. I was--$$Now, did you have to go to California to do that?$$I had-- I built them at Naval Research in Washington, D.C. and now they want them, got them and say we're going to ship them to California. Well, they were hand-carried. I mean when I say hand carried, these were too big to carry all these detectors but I was the person. This was my project, these were the ones that were accepted to be used and kept in a test. So I was to deliver those from Washington, D.C. to California and they hired the Flying Tigers Airline, me and these detectors. And this was so secret at the time that the Flying Tiger pilots couldn't know what they had and where they were going. I changed pilots three times between Washington, D.C. and California. That was my first big job there. After that I went to work directly for the University of California [at Berkley, Berkley, California].

Victor Lawrence

Electrical engineer Victor B. Lawrence was born in 1945 in Ghana, West Africa. Lawrence attended the Imperial College of Science and Technology at the University of London where he received his B.Sc. degree in 1968, his M.S. degree in 1969, and his Ph.D. degree in 1972, all in electrical engineering.

Upon graduation, Lawrence worked for one year as a development engineer in the United Kingdom and then spent two semesters teaching at Kumasi University of Science and Technology in Ghana. Lawrence joined Bell Laboratories in 1974 and served as supervisor of AT&T Information Systems Laboratories, department head of Data Communication Research, director of Advanced Multimedia Communications, and vice president of Advanced Communications Technology before his departure in 2005. His application of digital signal processing to data communications in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to many significant advances such as voice-band modems and DSL. Lawrence did the pioneering work and led the development of the “Studio Encoder” and the receiver chip-set for the Sirius Radio Satellite System. Beginning in 1996, Lawrence lectured for several years at the U.S. Industrial College of the Armed Force. As a visiting professor, he taught signal processing and data networking courses at the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, Princeton University, and Columbia University. Lawrence also instructed courses in technology management and technology incubation at Bell Laboratories to new engineers.

In 2005, Lawrence was appointed as the director of the Center for Intelligent Networked Systems, and was named associate dean and Charles Batchler Chair Professor of Engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He has co-coauthored five books: Introduction to Digital Filters, Tutorials on Modem Communications, Intelligent Broadband Multimedia Networks, Design and Engineering of Intelligent Communications Systems, and The Art of Scientific Innovation. Lawrence holds more than twenty U.S. and international patents and has had more than forty-five papers in referenced journals and conference proceedings, covering the topics of digital signal processing and data communications.

In recognition of his distinguished career, Lawrence was elected as a Fellow into the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and Bell Laboratories. His technical achievements include the 2004 IEEE Award in International Communication. Lawrence was a co-recipient of the 1984 J. Harry Karp Best Paper Award, the 1981 Gullemin-Cauer Price Award, and he shared the 1997 Emmy Award for HDTV Grand Alliance Standard with other Bell Laboratories employees. One of the many charitable and educational activities he is involved in is the International Cultural Exchange Center, which he co-founded.

Victor B. Lawrence was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 10, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.063

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/6/2013

Last Name

Lawrence

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University of London

Imperial College, University of London

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Victor

Birth City, State, Country

Accra

HM ID

LAW05

Favorite Season

Spring, Birthday

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained in sudden flight but, they while their companions slept, they were toiling upwards in the night.― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

5/10/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hoboken

Country

Ghana

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Electrical engineer Victor Lawrence (1945 - ) serves as the director of the Center for Intelligent Networked Systems as well as associate dean and Charles Batchler Chair Professor of Engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Employment

ITT Research Institute

Kumasi University

Bell Laboratories

AT&T

University of California, Berkeley

IEEE

United States Industrial College of the Armed Forces

Stevens Institute of Technology

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2604,121:2940,126:5376,158:5964,167:11250,212:12328,228:21372,310:27012,354:29946,374:30334,379:37470,507:38770,528:39485,544:48020,594:54990,636:55417,644:58730,692:59046,697:63708,753:75360,879:78510,933:78870,938:79410,946:86642,1033:86894,1038:88812,1053:89116,1058:104040,1230:104280,1235:109744,1276:115495,1367:124845,1453:126080,1479:126340,1484:127705,1506:136740,1561:150729,1711:160865,1890:166905,1953:171379,2004:171932,2012:174381,2046:175250,2064:189338,2226:189764,2254:190474,2267:192290,2277$70,0:5153,81:5445,86:7197,128:8876,161:9971,237:18220,393:19753,424:20191,432:22235,498:32528,609:32852,616:45673,782:46231,789:50137,841:55843,878:63760,984:72040,1003:80260,1075:80524,1080:80986,1088:81646,1128:82174,1138:82504,1145:83626,1166:84088,1176:87300,1203:87756,1210:93900,1260:101500,1368:109056,1413:109560,1420:110232,1429:112726,1441:113671,1462:120005,1514:146682,1768:146930,1773:154131,1850:157350,1898:164910,1934:165318,1941:169900,2019
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Victor Lawrence's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Victor Lawrence lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Victor Lawrence describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Victor Lawrence talks about his mother's education, her profession as a teacher, and the post-independence changes in community structure in Ghana

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Victor Lawrence describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Victor Lawrence talks about his father, Nathan Codjo Lawrence

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Victor Lawrence reflects upon the African slave trade and the Gate of No Return at Cape Coast, Ghana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Victor Lawrence responds to questions about his parents getting married parents got married

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Victor Lawrence discusses the dual influences of religion and traditional cultures on Ghanaian life, and describes a Ghanaian wedding

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Victor Lawrence talks about his likeness to his parents and family lineage in Ghana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Victor Lawrence describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Victor Lawrence talks about diseases that were common while he was growing up in Ghana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Victor Lawrence talks about his childhood and the neighborhood where he grew up in Accra, Ghana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Victor Lawrence describes his trip to England in 1952, his father's death, and his family's situation thereafter

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Victor Lawrence describes his experience in school in Accra, Ghana, and his interest in science and mathematics

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Victor Lawrence describes the independence movement in Ghana in the 1950s, and the Independence Day celebrations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Victor Lawrence describes his rich and formative experience at Achimota School in Ghana

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Victor Lawrence talks about his teachers and mentors at Achimota School, and the unique education that he received there

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Victor Lawrence talks about the British system of high school education, and his graduation from school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Victor Lawrence describes his decision to attend the University of London to study engineering

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Victor Lawrence talks about his interest in repairing gadgets and his job at the harbor in Accra, Ghana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Victor Lawrence describes his experience as an undergraduate student in London in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Victor Lawrence describes working at a restaurant and as the deputy warden of his hostel to put himself through graduate school in London

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Victor Lawrence talks about his thesis advisor, Professor Colin Cherry, and his Ph.D. dissertation in digital signal processing

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Victor Lawrence describes his Ph.D. dissertation in digital signal processing

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Victor Lawrence describes the applications of his Ph.D. dissertation on designing digital filters

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Victor Lawrence describes his recruitment to AT&T Bell Labs in the early 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Victor Lawrence talks about the University of Kumasi, Jerry Rawlings, and John Atta Mills

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Victor Lawrence talks about the coup d'etat in Ghana in 1974, his departure from Ghana, and his move to the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Victor Lawrence describes the help that he received from Kent Mina and Solomon Buchsbaum at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Victor Lawrence describes his experience at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Victor Lawrence talks about his work in developing applications at Bell Labs, and in creating global compatibility of data networks

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Victor Lawrence talks about his work on stabilizing digital filters that are used in digital signal processors

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Victor Lawrence talks about digital signal filters, the applications of his work in digital signal processing, and the advances made at Bell Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Victor Lawrence talks about his contributions to research and development at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Victor Lawrence talks about winning an Emmy Award in 1997 for his contribution in building the first HDTV receiver

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Victor Lawrence talks about his professional awards, recognitions and service

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Victor Lawrence talks about his technological collaborations and administrative positions at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Victor Lawrence talks about supporting Senator Bill Frist and the U.S. Sub-Committee on Science and Technology from 1997 to 2001

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Victor Lawrence talks about intelligent networks and the possibilities that they present

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Victor Lawrence talks about his book, 'The Art of Scientific Innovation'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Victor Lawrence talks about high-definition television, and receiving the IEEE Millennium Medal in 2000

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Victor Lawrence shares his perspectives on the Y2K problem

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Victor Lawrence talks about his long service at Bell Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Victor Lawrence talks about the break-up of AT&T Bell Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Victor Lawrence reflects upon his legacy at Bell Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Victor Lawrence describes his work with intelligent networks and his involvement with Baharicom Development Company (BDC)

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Victor Lawrence talks about his work on submarine communications to increase communication technologies with and within Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Victor Lawrence discusses his work on intelligent networks at Stevens Institute of Technology

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Victor Lawrence reflects upon the role of human beings as technology advances

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Victor Lawrence reflects upon potential ties between Africans and black Americans and the role of intelligent networks in global politics

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Victor Lawrence reflects upon his life and his hope for his native country of Ghana

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Victor Lawrence talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Victor Lawrence talks about his serve towards STEM education and international cultural relations

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Victor Lawrence talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Victor Lawrence describes his recruitment to AT&T Bell Labs in the early 1970s
Victor Lawrence talks about his contributions to research and development at Bell Laboratories
Transcript
So after you graduated [with a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of London, England], what were your options? Did you know you were gonna go back to Ghana or--$$Yeah, when I graduated I spent about six months or so in England with General Electric Company of United Kingdom. I spent that time there to learn a little bit about industry and at the same time, I was a post-doc [postdoctoral trainee] in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Imperial College [London, England] because my professor still wanted me around. I was working with him. So it was there that Bell Labs, AT&T, came to recruit me, because AT&T was recruiting worldwide. They wanted the best scientists they could get everywhere on this earth. So they came to Imperial College. And when they came to Imperial College, they saw my professor, and so my professor told them, told me, "Oh, there are these visitors from America. They want to come and recruit. I know you are interested in going to Ghana, but why don't you just show them around so that they can become, become acquainted with the university." So I started showing them around, and as we went from one place to the other, the gentleman said, oh, why don't I also come and work with them. And I told him that, no, I'm going to Ghana because--so they said, "Okay, you just come for a trip." So, they came and wrote back to me that I should come, because I think after I was taking them around, they were so much interested in me. So they sent me a ticket to come for interview, booked my hotels for me. Those were the good days for AT&T. So they gave me a ticket. I took the flight to JFK [John F. Kennedy Airport, New York City], and from JFK, you know what they did? They gave me a, they made me take a helicopter ride from JFK to Newark [New Jersey]. First time, I sat in a helicopter. So I said, "Gee, this must be a very good company." And then from Newark, I did the interview in New Jersey. And then they sent me to Chicago also to do--Illinois, Naperville, also to go and do some interviews there. And then I went back. It wasn't long, they wrote to me that they wanted me. And I told them that I have to go to Ghana first because my mother [Ellen Sarku Nettey] wanted me to come over.$Okay, yeah, say what you were saying about the development, I mean the growth of cell phone use today.$$Yeah, because they went from the first generation to the second generation [wireless technology], and they also did it in such a way that a lot of things were done in the transmitters. Jesse [Russell; also HistoryMaker] explained to you, and the things that they used were the components that I had developed, together with my colleagues [at bell Laboratories, New Jersey]. And that made the phones very small and made it very efficient. And they've gone from second generation to third generation, to fourth generation. And Jesse, now his company is working on the fourth generation.$$Okay.$$So that's where some of this--in between, I did a lot of other work. One of the things that I worked on was what we call the future secure voice telephone. The future, secure voice telephone using still the techniques that I had developed earlier in digital filtering, modulation, speech coding. In that time, in 1984 thereabouts, '84 [1984], '85 [1985], '86 [1986], the U.S. Defense Department [Department of Defense; DOD] wanted to have a generation of phones that were encrypted, a generation of phones that was digital. And so I worked on the future, secure voice terminal. In fact, the terminals were built, were used in the White House on the decks of the generals, when I think--involved just simple things like the speech. We have to digitize the speech, code it in such a way that you have it in a number of bits, compressed it into a small number of bits, and then encrypt it. So then we had to use digital modulation to do so. So this was what really was the future secure voice terminal, FSVS, and we had the whole generation of terminals for the U.S. government. So that was one application. Other applications was mentioned, this speech and filtering for wireless and then also for video as well. Those were things that we did do.$$Now, this is in the '80s [1980s] as well?$$Yeah, in the '80s.

James West

Electrical engineer James Edward West was born on February 10, 1931 in Farmville, Virginia to Samuel Edward and Matilda West. At various points, his father worked as a funeral home owner, an insurance salesman, and as a porter on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. His mother was a school teacher and worked at Langley Air Force Base during World War II, later losing her job because of her involvement in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. West has one brother, Nathaniel. West’s interest in electricity resulted from his work with his cousin to put electrical wiring into homes in rural Virginia when he was twelve years old. After graduating from George P. Phoenix High School, West went on to attend Hampton University in Virginia with plans of attending medical school. Nevertheless, West was drafted and sent to serve in the Korean War, where he was awarded a Purple Heart for his outstanding military service. West later became a pacifist and transferred to Temple University in Philadelphia. He decided to change his concentration and went on to receive his degree in physics in 1957.

West was hired at Bell Laboratories, where he began his studies to obtain his Ph.D. degree. During the second year of his doctorate program, West and a colleague, Gerhard Sessler, constructed a small microphone that did not require the use of a battery. This electret microphone replaced the carbon microphone and revolutionized communications technology. West’s invention was used in such devices as hearing aids and space technology. Even in 2011, 90% of microphone technology had its foundation in West’s development of the electret microphone. In addition to his research, West co-founded the Association of Black Laboratories Employees (ABLE) at Bell Labs in 1970. West retired from Lucent Technologies as a Bell Laboratories Fellow in 2001. He has continued to do research, joining the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 2002. His research interests include, among other things, finding new technology that will replace the electret microphone.

West’s inventions and contributions in electrical engineering have garnered him a great deal of recognition. In 1999, West was the fourth African American selected to join the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the invention of the electret microphone. He also received the U.S. National Medal of Technology in 2006. He has forty-seven U.S. patents, over 200 foreign patents, and has written over a hundred academic papers. West and his wife Marlene have four adult children, Melanie, Laurie, James and Ellington.

James E. West was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 10, 2012.

Accession Number

A2013.039

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/13/2013

Last Name

West

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

E.

Occupation
Schools

Temple University

Hampton University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Farmville

HM ID

WES07

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water, Mountains

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

2/10/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Electrical engineer James West (1931 - ) is known for his patent of the electret microphone, which revolutionized communications technology and is used in all modern day cell phones.

Employment

Bell Laboratories

Institute of Technology

John Hopkins University Whiting School

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:6675,86:7023,91:12939,148:13809,162:14418,170:14766,175:17811,214:18507,224:23407,245:28457,282:28962,288:30881,311:36040,335:44650,400:46375,434:47275,441:47575,459:50800,543:51850,563:53125,593:59125,711:66530,755:75895,845:79400,879:82252,946:82934,960:83988,981:89160,1030:89556,1037:89820,1047:90414,1056:90744,1062:95958,1103:96354,1110:121980,1344:122260,1349:123380,1375:124010,1385:124640,1396:125970,1422:129470,1510:139240,1607:140392,1632:141112,1645:141976,1688:143992,1701:144496,1710:144928,1718:145216,1723:145720,1731:151485,1775:151785,1780:153810,1813:155535,1842:155910,1848:156510,1858:156885,1864:163451,1924:163767,1929:167322,2003:167875,2013:173920,2030:175522,2055:175967,2061:180595,2120:181396,2131:181841,2137:188858,2162:189266,2170:192190,2231:196678,2326:199738,2394:200554,2408:201166,2418:202118,2436:231720,2685:238440,2785:244282,2837:244810,2844:245778,2858:246570,2870:247362,2882:248418,2897:248770,2902:249914,2917:262712,3036:264345,3065:267185,3114:273700,3182:274162,3190:276934,3232:277396,3241:282090,3268:282540,3276:288988,3322:289316,3327:290382,3349:300005,3467:301463,3486:304379,3529:304946,3536:305918,3549:306242,3554:324164,3791:329740,3856:337140,3974:340080,3979:342940,4028:347950,4084$0,0:2576,16:16240,50:16560,55:17600,69:18000,75:20320,91:20600,96:21020,103:22980,115:24100,133:24380,138:29256,182:30060,209:30529,220:30931,227:31467,236:32606,250:33544,260:34013,265:34281,270:38703,342:39172,350:39775,364:40713,377:41517,390:47290,406:47770,411:48370,417:55900,445:63221,485:63576,492:64996,509:65422,517:66132,530:67055,549:75564,647:75836,652:77536,685:78420,700:81548,749:82500,766:82976,774:85696,813:86104,820:86376,826:92418,844:93634,869:94470,881:95686,899:96142,906:96598,916:96978,923:97434,931:97966,940:99714,969:100018,974:102830,1026:104502,1055:106554,1084:107390,1098:108150,1115:112102,1230:112406,1235:113242,1249:113698,1257:121502,1278:121898,1285:122426,1295:123086,1310:126908,1373:127292,1380:127548,1385:127932,1392:128508,1403:129596,1418:130364,1431:130812,1440:131068,1446:132092,1469:132348,1474:133692,1502:134332,1513:134972,1527:135484,1537:143799,1615:144366,1623:145500,1642:146715,1663:149469,1680:150927,1702:154786,1720:155230,1728:155600,1734:158634,1776:158930,1781:159448,1789:159818,1796:160262,1803:160928,1820:169303,1878:170297,1900:170581,1905:171291,1921:171575,1926:172569,1941:173279,1952:176180,1969:177818,1998:178763,2019:179330,2030:180212,2050:180716,2059:181283,2070:182417,2089:183236,2103:183866,2115:184496,2126:185315,2145:185945,2156:190686,2198:191850,2220:193305,2246:194469,2262:194857,2267:195536,2277:205352,2294:206009,2305:206593,2315:208637,2346:209805,2369:210170,2375:212360,2403:215134,2423:215426,2476:216302,2488:217762,2501:231004,2607:231334,2613:231664,2619:232192,2629:233116,2656:233644,2668:234040,2676:234832,2695:235228,2702:235492,2707:236020,2716:240840,2727:248196,2793:248664,2800:250010,2818
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James West's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James West lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James West describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James West talks about his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James West talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James West describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James West talks about his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James West talks about his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James West describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James West talks about his growing up and his grandmother's influence on him

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James West describes the sights, sounds and smells of his growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James West talks about how Dr. Baker's death made him question religion

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James West talks about his early education and his interest in math and science

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James West remembers being electrocuted at eight years old

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James West talks about his childhood mentors and their influence on his life

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James West talks about the politics regarding education in Prince Edward County, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James West talks about the people and the organizations involved in Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James West talks about his learning process and his work with the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James West talks about his high school experience, his politics, and his teaching philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James West talks about healthcare and immigration policies and his interest in problem-solving

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James West talks about being drafted into the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James West talks about his experience in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James West talks about his experience at Temple University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James West talks about his experience interning at Bell Laboratories, part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James West talks about his experience interning at Bell Laboratories, part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James West talks about his experience at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James West talks about his friend, Gerhard Sessler

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James West talks about Bell Labs' management and fringe political groups in the U.S.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James West talks about the electret microphone- part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James West talks about the electret microphone- part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James West talks about the applications for the electret microphone

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James West talks about Dr. William Lincoln Hawkins and the Association of Black Laboratory Employees (ABLE)

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James West talks about Dr. William Lincoln Hawkins and the Association of Black Laboratory Employees (ABLE)- part 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James West talks about Arno Penzias and his leadership at Bell Labs

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James West talks about the Association of Black Laboratory Employees

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James West talks about his professional activities

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James West talks about his professional awards and his lack of his interest in having a management role

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James West talks about his professional awards and honors

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James West talks about his significant research at Bell Labs

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James West talks about his decision to join the faculty at Johns Hopkins University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James West talks about his research on hospital noise

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James West talks about his multi-media project at Northwestern University

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James West talks about his awards, honors, and his lack of interest in retirement

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James West reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - James West talks about the importance of diversity and the participation of minorities in technological development

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - James West reflects on his life choices

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - James West talks about his hopes and concerns for the Black community

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - James West talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - James West talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$7

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
James West talks about the Association of Black Laboratory Employees
James West talks about his multi-media project at Northwestern University
Transcript
So, did ABLE [Association of Black Laboratory Employees]--earlier, I guess, ABLE sued Bell Laboratories? Or was it--$$We did a lot of things. It's hard to get a company like AT&T, and at that time it was AT&T, to listen to anything. And so, we played little dirty games. Okay, one thing that we threatened the system with was to have everybody overpay their telephone bill by one penny. And we knew that the company was obligated to return that money to the person who gave it to them, which would cost them roughly five dollars, to give you that penny back, in terms of all of the paperwork that they had to go through. We had a campaign to--because then, your telephone bill came in the form of an IBM card, right, a punched card, folder. It no longer works in the machine. So, we played a whole lot of little, I call them tricks, very smart things to do to get the system to listen to you. That's all we wanted, you know. We just want you to listen to our problems and help us solve them. And this got their, you know, it was things like that that got their attention. I mean, they weren't the only things that we did. There were many, many fronts of this attack. And we had validity. We had Lincoln Hawkins. We had Dr. Shirley Jackson. We had Dr. Earl Shaw. We had Jim Mitchell. We had, you know--and these are just people that I can name that were there with me on the technical side, that made these things happen, right. They weren't comfortable. We had to come--I know I can remember sitting down and saying, "We might all be fired over this. We know how to get along on welfare. We know how to do that, so it ain't no big problem, you know. We'll survive." To having to assume that kind of posture, just to push through some of the concepts and things that we saw were necessary to do to the system in order to get them--you know, young women who would come in with no career ladder at all. They'd come in out of high school, and they're a gopher, and they never get out of that gopher trap, right. We created programs that provided a path for these people to get out of those ruts. We taught them how to use welfare to their advantage. We encouraged them to quit this two dollar an hour job, use welfare and go back to school and then come back. We had people who really did that, who came back into the system at very high levels. And I'm not only talking about--I'm talking about directors and executive directors, and so forth, people that came through that loop. But what made it all possible was attacking... You see, the dissent decree was on our--yeah, the consent decree--AT&T was a monopoly. And it knew that we had the law on our side, but it still resisted. We still had to put some force and functions in, in order to get the system to understand that we were serious, and that we really meant business. And the summer programs, for example: as many as two thousand black kids throughout the country in technical summer jobs, the first time in the history of this country that anything like that had happened.$$This was all brought down by federal consent, decree, I mean as far as AT&T?$$That was there--no, the company, what made them do it was ABLE. The consent decree didn't, I mean, that was our tool. That was what we, you know, we knew that we could stretch this rubber band because of the laws that governed AT&T at that time.$$Okay. At some point, and I don't know where--if you know the year, you can tell me. The Alliance of Black Telecommunications Employees was created by a merging of ABLE with a committee of AT&T employees and an employee focus group of AT&T Communications.$$I, let me, here's another quirk in my personality. Once things are working, I go and do something else. So, I know very little about the workings of the--I mean, I knew that these things happened, but I can't tell you anything about them, because I had other responsibilities (laughter) ahead of that.$$That's true though, but you were really involved, you were involved in that initial formation of AT&T.$$The initial formation, yes. But its further development, no.$One of my other projects is multi-media, which is very unfriendly to blind people. There's very little they can do with multi-media, they can't see. And my students doing this is at Northwestern [University], which is a common thing in universities, where you work with people of other universities. This happens to be my son-in-law that I'm working with, whose a professor at Northwestern University. And what we've done is to translate visual scenes into auditory stimuli, okay. You have a tablet. It has a square, circle and a triangle on there, right. And you pick your finger down on the tablet and--well, that's kind of hard to do. We're at that stage, but it's a little bit too complicated to explain in a simple manner. Let's say I have one object, and it's located somewhere on this tablet. And I put my finger down, right, and I have headphones on. And I use directional hearing. I put my finger down, and what I hear is that the object that I want is out in this direction somewhere. So, now, I can start moving my finger toward it, right. And just as in sonar, as you get closer to the object, the beep goes up, and so, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop. And you get there, right. And so, now you know you're at the object, because the auditory signal tells you that. But now, what is the shape of that object? And so, now you sort of stop moving your finger around the object, and it tells you by what you hear, that you want to go in this direction. And you get to a transition point, and it tells you that you want to move in this direction. So, now you can actually--people can without seeing it, can say what that object is, right. And we're moving all the way to texture, to being able to touch something on a touch sensitive screen and tell whether it's a smooth surface, a rough surface, and so on, okay. So, that's another project. The real interesting, the real physics and the real science, is in generating these nanofibers where all of the dipoles are oriented in the same direction, making new tiers of electric materials, materials that can independently control the electronic properties and the mechanical properties. A student that was on the way here, a past student, that was the topic of her thesis.$$Okay.$$What else am I doing? There are probably a couple of others, but let's let it go at that. But, some of the other things that I'm doing is on committees, for the NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] funding, to improve stem education in the city of Baltimore.$$Okay. That's, okay, alright. And, so, are you in a project where you bring young people to campus or anything, in the summer?$$We will be doing that, yes. I always have students around me. Whenever they--especially African-American and Hispanics, they're always welcome in my lab.

Gary May

Electrical engineer and academic administrator Gary Stephen May was born on May 17, 1964 in St. Louis, Missouri. He was one of two children born to Warren May, Jr., a postal clerk, and Gloria Hunter, a teacher. As a high school student, May participated in a summer program called “Developing Engineering Students” at McDonnell Douglass Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri for three summers. He was subsequently employed by the company as a cooperative education student. May received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1985, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1987 and 1991, respectively.

May joined the George Tech College Engineering in 1991 as a member of the microelectronics research group. In 1992, May created the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering/Science (SURE) program with a grant from the National Science Foundation. May is also the co-founder and director of the Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Sciences (FACES) program, for which he has received over $10 million in funding from NSF to increase the number of African American Ph.D. degree graduates produced by Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2001, May was named Motorola Foundation Professor, and was appointed associate chair for Faculty Development in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). Then, in 2005, May was promoted to Steve W. Chaddick Chair of ECE; and, in 2011, he became Dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech.

Throughout his career, May has published numerous articles in academic journals, including Journal of Applied Physics, the International Journal of Materials and Manufacturing Processes. He also served as editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Semiconductor Manufacturing. In 2006, May was the co-author of Fundamentals of Semiconductor Manufacturing and Process Control; and in 2003, he co-authored . May is also the recipient of professional and academic awards. In 2004, May received Georgia Tech’s Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, as well as the Outstanding Minority Engineer Award from the American Society of Engineering Education. In 2006, he received the Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). For his academic contributions, May was named a fellow of the AAAS, the IEEE, and received an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Latina de Panama.

May and his wife, LeShelle Mary, live in Atlanta, Georgia with their two daughters, Simon and Jordan.

Gary Stephen May was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 10, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.207

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/10/2012

Last Name

May

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Stephen

Schools

University of California, Berkeley

Georgia Institute of Technology

First Name

Gary

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

MAY07

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

5/17/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Short Description

Electrical engineer and academic administrator Gary May (1964 - ) is the Dean of the College of Electrical Engineering of Georgia Institute of Technology.

Employment

Georgia Institute of Technology

University of California, Berkeley

Bell Laboratories

McDonnell Douglas Technical Services Company (MDTSC)

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:1248,20:5772,135:6474,150:16692,335:17472,346:20846,363:21102,368:21742,384:23534,432:23982,440:24302,446:25646,468:26094,481:27246,504:28782,545:31772,556:32213,571:32591,578:33851,603:34355,616:36119,651:37064,667:38009,688:38639,704:39836,725:40088,730:40592,740:41348,759:50477,853:51686,865:52895,881:57178,922:57700,932:57932,937:58396,946:58802,956:59092,962:59904,981:62688,1045:63094,1057:64254,1094:64486,1099:65530,1129:66632,1164:67038,1172:67386,1180:67676,1186:68488,1205:69300,1230:70518,1258:70982,1267:72722,1324:73476,1346:73998,1369:78872,1395:79574,1409:81194,1450:81626,1459:82436,1477:82652,1482:83138,1492:83354,1497:83894,1508:84326,1516:85028,1534:93950,1622:94800,1636:95735,1648:96755,1669:98200,1699:98625,1705:99305,1716:99985,1728:106013,1779:110210,1821:111330,1842:113708,1872:113992,1881:114418,1888:114915,1898:115554,1923:118820,1973:121305,2020:122299,2031:122583,2036:123222,2048:123577,2054:128760,2065:129112,2070:131630,2095:132174,2104:132922,2118:136118,2164:136662,2173:138280,2181$0,0:7022,71:8094,100:8630,109:27150,416:28151,432:29306,453:33772,559:34234,568:34619,574:35620,591:36544,606:41910,634:43830,670:45670,699:47830,743:52070,813:60110,902:60830,912:61310,919:62510,938:66030,1003:68030,1044:70110,1077:70430,1082:75472,1127:79882,1255:80953,1279:81457,1288:81709,1293:82024,1299:84355,1369:85678,1404:86056,1411:91450,1468:96065,1594:96845,1618:99835,1690:101590,1719:102175,1731:102500,1737:103020,1746:103475,1755:103930,1764:104385,1770:104710,1776:109520,1789:114020,1889:119345,2016:119720,2022:120095,2032:121145,2054:131750,2215:135390,2306:135670,2311:138190,2335:139870,2382:142180,2437:142810,2449:156945,2666:158254,2744:160333,2784:160949,2794:162335,2820:164260,2890:164568,2895:164953,2901:165261,2907:166185,2923:166570,2929:177588,3046:179991,3100:189614,3244:190334,3261:192422,3303:192710,3308:194438,3350:202142,3530:203438,3565:212490,3628:219962,3653:220520,3667:223992,3724:224674,3737:236636,3968:239048,4040:239986,4071:245653,4163:249771,4262:253889,4355:257013,4402:257936,4417:275841,4587:276633,4596:277326,4604:278428,4648:279907,4768:305232,5125:306072,5136:306744,5145:307500,5156:310356,5227:312036,5256:312708,5265:315144,5364:320716,5467:323994,5502:327990,5592:330506,5645:331320,5660:331616,5665:332208,5674:341310,5822
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gary May's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gary May lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gary May describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gary May describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gary May describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gary May describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gary May describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gary May describes his interest in comic books and science fiction

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gary May talks about his elementary and middle school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gary May describes his reaction to the television mini-series, 'Roots'

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gary May describes his experience in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gary May talks about his experience in the Developing Engineering Students summer program

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gary May describes his teenage interests

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gary May describes what influenced his college choice

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gary May talks about his experience at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gary May describes his experience at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gary May talks about the University of California at Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gary May talks about his doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gary May describes his decision to stay at Georgia Tech for his Ph.D.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gary May describes his work with science education at Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gary May describes his computer preferences

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gary May talks about programs to increase minority representation in engineering

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gary May talks about his professional activities and awards

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gary May talks about his career at the Georgia Institute of Technology, part one

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gary May talks about his career at the Georgia Institute of Technology, part two

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gary May describes his goals as dean of the engineering school at Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gary May reflects on the effects of automation on the loss of jobs

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gary May discusses the balance between his research and administrative responsibilities

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gary May describes cutting edge research in semiconductors and electrical engineering

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gary May reflects on his career

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gary May shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gary May reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gary May talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gary May describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Gary May describes his reaction to the television mini-series, 'Roots'
Gary May describes his work with science education at Georgia Institute of Technology
Transcript
Yeah, well, we were talking off camera about 'Roots' [Alex Haley]--$$Emm hmm.$$--now that came out in 1977--$$Right.$$--and you'd have been ahh what, thirteen?$$Yeah, I was like ahh eighth grade or so.$$Yeah, thirteen years old?$$Emm hmm.$$And tell us about your reaction to "Roots."$$I was fascinated by it. It was probably the most compelling television I had ever seen, and maybe still to this day have seen 'cause, you know, I watched every episode. My face was glued to the television, riveted by every, every--'cause I had never--had no concept of slavery in the middle passage and what sort of things black people had endured. I mean we had some of this in school, but you know reading it in a textbook just didn't come alive the same way it did on television there with, you know, the story was so well-done and well-acted, and it was just a significant milestone in my life, seeing that series.$$Okay, and you expressed some surprise that your white classmates weren't watching.$$Yeah. So, you know, at school we'd get there in the morning and everyone would say, "What did you do last night? What did you watch on television?" And, you know, I was stunned that my white classmates weren't watching it. I couldn't imagine anybody wouldn't be watching this (laughter), but, you know, and they didn't, and not because they were bad people or anything; it just wasn't part of their experience or interest, and that was also something--a learning experience for me that there was some difference between myself and my, my classmates.$$Okay, okay. So did your teachers discuss it at school at all?$$We did not discuss it in school very much at all. It was more of a family--you know my whole family was watching it together and we'd discuss it, you know, during and after.$$Okay, okay. Did you have a sense that your own family history was--part of that was your own family history?$$Well I would ask a lotta questions. You know, it was the same kinda thing that our family experienced, and I was able to generalize that show to the black experience more broadly, and didn't have specific details on my family like Alex Haley did, but could sort of identify with it.$Okay. All right. So you became professor of engineering and computer engineering?$$Electrical and Computer Engineering--$$Okay.$$--that's the way we were organized here, but I still do electrical engineering myself, but we also had computer engineering degree and we're in the same department.$$Okay. Okay. It's interesting here and like almost the second year you're here, in '92 [1992], you founded and became director of the Summer Undergraduate Research and Engineering Science program, SURE--$$Right. The SURE program.$$--the SURE program.$$So, you know, my other real passion, in addition to my research, was in attracting other minorities to engineering and science and helping grow the field and replicate myself, if you will. I never could understand why there were so few of us. You know, if you believe, as I do, that the types of talents that make for good engineers are distributed uniformly across populations, there should be--you know, we should be a parity in engineering--black people, but we're not. So that's been a real passion of mine to contract more people to engineering, more African-American people to engineering. So at this program, the SURE program that you mentioned was an offshoot of something we did in graduate school where we brought students from other universities to campus at [University of California] Berkeley for the summer to recruit them to graduate school there.$$Now was that the Superb program?$$Superb. So my colleagues and I, when we were still graduate students, started the Superb program at Berkeley. And so the SURE program--the first name actually was called GT Supreme and forget what--it was another long acronym, but the same general model where the idea was to bring students from all over the U.S., black students who were at that time just electrical engineers, to Georgia Tech to (1) get them interested in graduate school, and (2) to hopefully recruit them to Georgia Tech for their graduate education. And I did that--that's probably, as I think about it, that was actually the first proposal I ever got funded as a faculty member, was for the SURE program. And starting that, as you said, right after I came in 1992, and it's been going strong every year since then so--the program is twenty-two years old now.$$Now did you get this program funded for $2.3 million back in '92 [1992]?$$No, no. The very first grant I got was for about $50,000, yeah.$$Oh, so this is the accumulation of all years, I guess (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--yeah, that's (unclear). Yeah.$$--'cause I was gonna say "Wow, it's astonishing."$$(Laughter) That would be great if that was my first grant, no. That first--it was just for one summer, a 50,000 grant--$50,000 grant for one summer, for '92 [1992], that would fund about ten students. And then after that, I wrote a, you know, renewal proposal and have been renewing it ever since then, typically every three years. The cumulative amount of funding there has been more than two million dollars.$$Okay. So it's funded by the National Science Foundation [NSF].$$Primarily. There have been a few other foundations, but that's been the bulk of the amount.$$Okay. Well--and that's for approximately how many students?$$So we started out with just ten students that summer, but now we have about thirty-five or forty students every summer. Cumulatively, we've had over 400 students since the program started. No students themselves have gone on; some of them have started similar programs and gone to graduate school and are professors at other universities, and it's been quite a success story.$$Okay. All right. Now, let's see. What were you working on? Was your time at Georgia Tech split between research and teaching?$$It was. At any research university, the responsibilities of the faculty member include both the research mission of the university as well as your teaching--your educational mission of the university. And there's some service and professional things that you do as well, but you have to be good at all those things to be successful, to get tenure and get promoted. And I was doing what I was supposed to doing.$$What kind of research were you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) (unclear)--work. I was continuing that. I had students working on, you know, various sensors and modeling and process control systems, and all again designed to improve the efficiency and productivity of integrated circuit manufacturing.$$$$Okay. All right. So it says here that in 1997, you're thirty-three years old, you take on a leadership role at the National Science Foundation.$$Yeah, I was working as a--on a committee for NSF [National Science Foundation], and I think what I was doing then, if I remember that particular role, that was the--that's probably--it could be one of two things. It was a Committee on Equal Opportunity and Science Engineering. Is that the one you're talking about?$$Yeah, right.$$Yeah. So I was on that committee for a while and I eventually became Chair of that committee. I guess I was Chair in 2000.$$Okay. (Coughing). And in 1998, you founded the Facilities Academic Careers in Engineering and Sciences (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--So that's a FACES program. Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Science. That was another grant from NSF that we got through a program that was originally called Minority Graduate Education, but now it's called The Alliances for Graduate Education (unclear). And the idea there was (1) to increase the number of underrepresented minorities getting PhD's in STEM fields, and more importantly than to get those folks with the PhD's into academic careers. And that was--we were one of the first cohort of universities that got one those grants and I was the principal investigator of the grant.

John Slaughter

Electrical engineer and academic administrator John brooks Slaughter was born in Topeka, Kansas, on March 16, 1934. His father, Reuben Brooks Slaughter, was hard-working and held a variety of jobs to support his family; and, his mother, Dora Reeves Slaughter, was a homemaker. Slaughter graduated from Topeka High School in 1951 and enrolled at Washburn University, but transferred after two years to attend Kansas State University. There, he earned his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1956. Slaughter went on to receive his Ph.D. in engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1961, and his Ph.D. in engineering sciences from the University of California, San Diego in 1971.

Slaughter joined the U.S. Navy Electronics Laboratory in San Diego in 1960. In 1975, he became Director of the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington; and, in 1977, Slaughter was appointed Assistant Director for Astronomics, Atmospherics, Earth and Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation. From 1979 to 1980, Slaughter was Provost and Academic Vice President at Washington State University. The, he serves as the director of the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C. for two years. Between 1982 and 1988, Slaughter was the Chancellor of the University of Maryland, College Park, where he made major advances in e recruitment and retention of African-American students and faculty. Slaughter then was elected President of Occidental College in Los Angeles from 1988 through July 1999. In August 1999, he assumed the position of Melbo Professor of Leadership in Education at the University of Southern California. In June 2000, Slaughter was named President and CEO of The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

Slaughter holds honorary degrees from more than 25 institutions of higher education. He was also a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Award in 1997, and UCLA’s Medal of Excellence in 1989. Slaughter was honored with the first U.S. Black Engineer of the Year award in 1987, and received the Arthur M. Bueche Award from the Nation Academy of Engineering in 2004, where he is also a fellow. Slaughter is married to Dr. Ida Bernice Slaughter, an educational consultant and former school administrator. They have two children: a son, Dr. John Brooks Slaughter, Jr., DVM, and a daughter, Ms. Jacqueline Michelle Slaughter.

John Brooks Slaughter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 28, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.205

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/28/2012

Last Name

Slaughter

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Brooks

Schools

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, San Diego

Kansas State University

Topeka High School

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Topeka

HM ID

SLA02

Favorite Season

Fall, September

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Some people would rather have a cause than an effect.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

3/16/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ribs (Pork Spare)

Short Description

Electrical engineer and education administrator John Slaughter (1934 - ) was the first African American to direct the National Science Foundation and developed computer algorithms for system optimization and discrete signal processing.

Employment

Convair

United States Naval Electronic Laboratory Center

United States Naval Applied Physics Laboratory

University of Washington

Washington State University

National Science Foundation (NSF)

University of Maryland, College Park

Occidental College

University of Southern California

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Slaughter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Slaughter lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Slaughter describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Slaughter describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about his father's work in the coal mines

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Slaughter talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Slaughter describes his childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Slaughter shares his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Slaughter describes his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Slaughter describes his experience at Buchanan Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Slaughter describes his skill with electronics and his desire to become an engineer

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about his extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John Slaughter talks about the teachers that influenced him

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John Slaughter describes his experience of World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - John Slaughter talks about his family and the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - John Slaughter talks about his teacher, Howard Anderson

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Slaughter talks about Washburn University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Slaughter describes the impact of his liberal arts education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Slaughter talks about the Kansas State University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Slaughter talks about teachers at Washburn University that influenced him

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John Slaughter describes his experience with computers at the Kansas State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about organizations he joined as an undergraduate

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John Slaughter talks about the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - John Slaughter talks about his cousin, Lucinda Todd

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - John Slaughter describes his decision to work at General Dynamics

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - John Slaughter talks about the offer to be "the Jackie Robinson of Westinghouse"

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John Slaughter describnes his work at General Dynamics

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Slaughter describes his work with the U.S. Navy Electronic Laboratory

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Slaughter talks about his graduate studies and his decision to pursue his Ph.D.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John Slaughter describes his doctoral research

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about his work at the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John Slaughter describes his work with the National Science Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John Slaughter describes his work at Washington State University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John Slaughter talks about his work to restore funding for science education

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John Slaughter talks about the difference between science and engineering

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John Slaughter talks about his time at the University of Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John Slaughter talks about the challenges he faced at the University of Maryland (part 1)

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about the challenges he faced at the University of Maryland (part 2)

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about his inspiration and role models

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John Slaughter describes his work at Occidental College

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - John Slaughter talks about former students of Occidental College

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - John Slaughter describes his work at the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - John Slaughter describes his work at the University of Southern California

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - John Slaughter talks about the Rodney King incident

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about affirmative action

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - John Slaughter describes his current role at the University of Southern California

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - John Slaughter shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - John Slaughter reflects on his career

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - John Slaughter talks about his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - John Slaughter talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - John Slaughter tells how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - John Slaughter describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
John Slaughter describes his skill with electronics and his desire to become an engineer
John Slaughter talks about his work to restore funding for science education
Transcript
Now you grew up with no television, right?$$That's right.$$And in terms of radio, did you have a radio?$$We had a radio. Like I said, my dad was a used furniture salesman, so he would sometimes get old radios, and we had plenty of them around. And that was important to me, because my dad would go to auction houses and buy things that needed repair. And so he'd buy tables and chairs and things and bring them along and repair them and clean them. And sometimes he'd buy radios. And so, he had a barn out in the backyard for this old furniture that he would buy and fix up. And I started playing with the radios, and then I started fixing some of them, and making them play. And my dad realized that maybe this was a God-send. So, my dad built me in the backyard a little radio shack, a radio shop for me. And my mother bought me test equipment, and I went into the radio repair business. And all the time I was in high school, I had a radio repair business. And I used to advertise that I would fix any radio in Topeka [Kansas] for $4 plus parts. And I paid for a lot of my education through my radio repair business. That was a significant part of my upbringing because I loved to take things apart and see how they worked. And that's what I think led me to become an engineer.$$Now, those are the days I remember when you would go to the store and buy a vacuum tube to test the vacuum tube--$$Yeah.$$--to figure out--$$Yep, I had a vacuum tube tester. I told my mother I needed a vacuum tube tester and we found a used one at a radio store in Topeka. And she couldn't afford it, but she bought it for me. She knew that that was something that I wanted and needed for my radio repair business.$$Okay. How much did it cost? I guess I'm curious now.$$I think it was about $25 at the time.$$That's a lot of money in those days.$$Yeah.$$$25 may have been equivalent to a couple hundred dollars today.$$That's right, exactly. My dad's annual salary during that time was about $2500 a year or so. (laughter). So, you just imagine that $25 was an important part of that one percent.$$Right, right. But you were able to make money with it.$$Yes.$$So, I would guess you would contribute money back into the home, that sort of thing?$$Yes.$$So, it was probably significant income.$$Well, it was $4 plus parts, and I did the best I could. (laughter). But it helped pay for my college education, so my parents didn't have to pay for that as much, certainly for the first two years.$$Okay. Now, did you ever encounter a radio that you couldn't fix and a problem you just couldn't deal with?$$I don't think so. I think there was one car radio that a friend of mine had that I had difficulty and may not have been able to complete, but I became very good at it.$$Okay. So, did you have any kind of consultation with anybody about how to do it, or did you just start to tinker?$$I took a class when I went to high school. I'll back up. When I was in junior high school, our junior high school was integrated. And it was more integrated, actually, in many ways, than the high school. But in junior high school I decided that I wanted to be an engineer. And I'm not absolutely certain how that revelation came, other than the fact that I was curious and I liked, like I said, to take things apart and see how they worked, and build things. So, I would get old copies of 'Popular Mechanics Magazines,' and they always had projects you could build. And I made cameras and I made various electronic devices, and I decided I wanted to be an electrical engineer. And I would tell anybody who was in earshot, that I wanted to be an electronic engineer. People thought I was crazy, because nobody had heard of a--first of all, engineers in Topeka were not anybody other than people who drove the Santa Fe Railroad train, you know. And certainly nobody had ever heard of a black engineer. And you know, here is this kid saying I want to be an engineer. And I don't even think my parents really understood what it was that I was saying I wanted to be. So, I went to high school, and I remember saying to the counselor that I wanted to be an engineer. And what they said, which is not uncommon for black kids at that time was, "You need to go to vocational school." So, I ended up in trade school where I learned about radios.$$Okay. Now, I'm going to go back. These counseling stories, we can begin to make a book out of them.$$I know.$$The same advice.$$Yeah.$$But we're going to go back to--now in high school, in Topeka High School, how were your grades?$$My grades were good. I wasn't perfect, but I had--I graduated--but with excellent grades. I was always a good student.$Alright. So, you were the director of NSF [National Science Foundation] from '80' [1980] to '82' [1982].$$Right.$$And what were some of the issues and duties, well, duties as president at NSF in those days?$$Well, it was a difficult time. And the biggest issue I had was that shortly after I was confirmed, well, shortly before I was confirmed, actually, Jimmy Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan. I was the last Carter appointee to be confirmed by the Senate because they were waiting for Reagan to come on.$$Had you interacted with Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California?$$No. I had not. But I had interacted a lot with members of his transition committee. And I had actually good relations with them, and I think that's the reason that they approved my appointment and I was able to transcend the period from Carter to Reagan. But I wanted to make sure that I, before I moved my family from Pullman, Washington to Washington, D.C. [District of Columbia], I wanted to make certain that I had the support of the new administration before I would go back to Washington to take the job. But it was very clear early on that many of the things that I believed in were not necessarily supported by the new administration. They wanted to eliminate science education, for example, from the budget. As a matter of fact, they did eliminate it. So, the biggest issue I had for the two years I was there was getting it restored. And that occupied a significant part of my time, getting science education restored.$$I guess the philosophy of the administration was that this was something that the public sector ought to fund, science education.$$Yes. Science education and behavioral and social sciences were on the chopping block. And the hardest thing that I had to do was to go to the science education director and about 125 people, and tell them that they had just lost their jobs, because I didn't believe in what the administration was doing. So, with the support of some people in Congress, mainly Ted Kennedy, we were able to get it back on the radar screen in the Congress and ultimately get science education restored, even though the full restoration didn't occur until after I left. But we laid all the groundwork during that time. The other thing that was significant during the time I was director was that we were able to establish engineering as a full directorate at NSF. Up until that time, only the pure sciences had been considered a part of the NSF portfolio, and there had been a long standing desire on the part of the engineering community to be included. And I think the fact that I am an engineer was important, and during the time I was there we were able to get engineering established.