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Lucius Walker

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2012.054

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/15/2012

Last Name

Walker, Jr.

Marital Status

Seperated

Schools

Lovejoy Elementary School

Terrell Junior High School

Armstrong Technical School

Morehouse College

Carnegie Institute of Technology

Howard University

First Name

M. Lucius

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

WAL17

Favorite Season

Spring

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

The Future Is Now.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

12/16/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate Bars

Death Date

6/22/2013

Short Description

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

Employment

Howard University

Carnegie Institute of Technology

Favorite Color

Cream, Crimson

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

1$2

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