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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.

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
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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.

Edward Tunstel

Robotics engineer and technology developer Edward Tunstel, Jr. was born on November 29, 1963 in Harlem, New York to Agnes Tunstel and Edward Tunstel, Sr. As a child, Tunstel was very interested in art, which led him to pursue an initial interest in architecture. However, after he attended a seminar held by the New York Academy of Sciences the summer of his junior year in high school, he decided to shift his focus to engineering instead due to his curiosity in learning how things worked. He graduated from Springfield Gardens High School in Queens, New York in 1981 and received his B.S. and M.E. degrees in mechanical engineering from Howard University in 1986 and 1989, respectively.

Upon his graduation from Howard University, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recruited Tunstel. In 1992, he was granted the JPL Minority Fellowship to further his education at the University of New Mexico, where he received his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering in 1996. Tunstel has continued to work with the JPL following the completion of his Ph.D. program, and he has served in various roles. One of his larger projects was to serve as a Flight Systems Engineer for autonomous surface navigation of the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers. He has also served as the mobility and robotic arm lead on the Spacecraft/Rover Engineering Team for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers’ surface operations on Mars. Since 1997, he worked as the Space Robotics and Autonomous Control Lead at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he continued to solve robotics problems for NASA. His research interests include: autonomous control systems, cooperative robotics, and mobile robot navigation.

Throughout his career, Tunstel has written a number of articles on the subject of robotics and intelligent control. He has also edited and contributed to several books related to robotics and engineering. Tunstel is a member of several professional organizations, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He has also been honored for his contributions to the science of robotics and space exploration. Tunstel is married to Jan Harwell Tunstel.

Accession Number

A2012.145

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/15/2012

Last Name

Tunstel

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

W

Occupation
Schools

University of New Mexico

Howard University

Springfield Gardens High School

St. Mark the Evangelist School

St Catherine Of Sienna School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

TUN03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Monterey, California

Favorite Quote

Keep It Moving, Fair Enough.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

11/29/1963

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cookies

Short Description

Electrical engineer Edward Tunstel (1963 - ) was a skilled engineer who worked with the Jet Propulsion League of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on such projects as the Mars Exploration Rovers.

Employment

John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory

United States Department of the Navy

Howard University

Engineering Information, Inc.

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edward Tunstel's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel talks about his father's career in the supermarket business

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel recalls how his parents met and describes their personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Edward Tunstel describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Edward Tunstel describes his early neighborhood in Harlem

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Harlem

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel talks about his interest in art and how it influenced his aspirations in engineering

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel describes his interest in science fiction and comic books

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel talks about his early perceptions of African American scientists

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel recalls his favorite subjects and field trips during school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel talks about moving to Jamaica, Queens in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel describes his interest in basketball and the game's influence on his social skills

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel talks about his experience at St. Catherine of Siena School in Queens, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel describes his childhood aspirations of becoming a scientist

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel talks about his parents' encouragement and his reading interests

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel recalls being inspired by science and technology during his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel talks about his favorite teacher at St. Catherine of Siena School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel recalls entering Springfield Gardens High School in Queens, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel talks about his early religious experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel describes his science instruction at Springfield Gardens High School

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Edward Tunstel talks about the racial demographics of Springfield Gardens High School

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Edward Tunstel recalls the New York Academy of Sciences' influence on his career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Edward Tunstel describes his personality and academic performance in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Edward Tunstel recalls his decision to apply to Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel talks about the historic African American administrators at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel describes his experience at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel recalls the protests at Howard University in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel remembers his professors and role models at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel talks about how he improved his study habits at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel describes his decision to pursue mechanical engineering at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel talks about his experience of studying robotics at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel recalls pursuing his master's degree in robotics at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel recalls the social challenges in Washington D.C. in the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel talks about the relationship between the students at Howard University and the neighboring community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel describes his master's thesis at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel talks about being recruited by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel describes his early experiences at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel talks about the work environment at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel describes his work with NASA's Robby and Rocky rovers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel talks about NASA's robotic spacecraft

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Edward Tunstel describes his work with the Mars Pathfinder Rover

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Edward Tunstel talks about his JPL Minority Fellowship

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel describes the concept of fuzzy logic based navigation of mobile robots

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel describes the development of the LOBOT mobile robot

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel describes his work with robotic rovers

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel talks about his role as the lead system engineer for the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel recalls acting as the flight systems engineer for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Surface Mission Phase team

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel talks about the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) surface mission of 2003

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel describes the Mars Exploration Rovers

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel talks about the Mars Exploration Rover Curiosity and its mission in 2012

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel talks about the range finding capacity of robotic rovers

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel describes the technological advances at NASA

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel recalls working on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) program

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel talks about leaving the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel describes his experience at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel talks about his membership at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel describes the advancements in cybernetics and robotics

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Edward Tunstel describes his robotics hobby

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Edward Tunstel shares his predictions on the future of robotics

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Edward Tunstel talks about his predictions for artificial intelligence

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Edward Tunstel reflects upon his life

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Edward Tunstel describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Edward Tunstel talks about the socio-economic impact of having a society serviced by robots

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Edward Tunstel reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Edward Tunstel talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Edward Tunstel describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Edward Tunstel narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$8

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Edward Tunstel talks about his professors and role models at Howard University
Edward Tunstel talks about his forecast on the future of robotics
Transcript
Now, were they still doing African Liberation Day when you were there [Howard University, Washington, District of Columbia]?$$Yes, yes. You know, and so, yeah, and so the campus was a venue for a lot of interesting things as well. So they, in so many different ways, I could talk for a long time about how good the experience was at Howard, you know, aside, ever aside from the academic aspects. But along the line of the academic aspects, one of the things that I put high on my list though really is the, you know, seeing folks who look like you as professors and many of them, quite accomplished professors, you know. And this is even, not just in engineering. It's across all the schools, you know. And that had a major impact, you know. Again, the baseline thing is that it gives you a feeling that what you're trying to do, you know, in terms of getting this degree and maybe doing something useful with it afterwards, is in reach, whereas, if you didn't have these physical examples in front of you, which I hadn't had prior to coming to Howard, it's more of a question, you know. Maybe you're still confident that you can do various things, but I think it's more of a question. And I think that question is totally dispelled in that environment.$$Okay.$$It's more, it's like, you know, and if you can't succeed at what you're trying to do, it's really probably yourself and not, you know, the fact that you're not, somehow not capable, you know, 'cause you got too many examples, good examples around you.$$Okay, so, now, who were some of the professors that were there that you're reminded (unclear)--$$Well, Lucius Walker [also a HistoryMaker] was one of 'em. At a time when I was there, I had worked, I was doing work-study, and I had, was working for the dean's office, in fact, doing things like the, the school of engineering mail and stuff like that. But what it did is, it allowed me to spend more time than otherwise in and out of--in and around the dean's office. So I got a chance to, in some sense, you know, watch him work or watch him interact. He was also teaching courses at the time, so I got a view of him as a professor, and I got a view of him as a dean, and I had a view of him in interactions with the administration in his office, a more, sort of interpersonal view. He was always very impressive to me. He was sort of an example of someone, I guess my iconic example of a scholar, right, an accomplished scholar. And I thought, I hadn't had particular aspirations at that time necessarily of becoming a professor or anything like that. But he was my example of it, you know. That's what it is. It's that guy, and so he was, he had a certain type--that sort of influence on me, that sort of impact. There were other professors as well. Professor Emmanuel Glapke. His name is spelled G-L-A-P-K-E. And he was a, he taught in the mechanical engineering department. His main area was an area called heat transfer. Now, he mostly stood out to me, I think, because he was an example to me of, sort of engineering excellence, if you will, someone who really, really, really knew his field, but not only that, could really communicate it well, whether he was teaching it or whether he was just talking about it to the laymen. And I always thought that was a pretty impressive--now, he always had a pretty good relationship with the students as well, on the personal level--$$Oh, I'm sorry. What was his ethnicity?$$He was, I believe he was--I don't know. I don't remember which country from directly, but from Africa.$$Okay.$$But he had been in America for quite some time by the time I had encountered him. So I don't know if he was, you know, he was probably first generation, but probably came to America when he was much younger.$$Okay.$What's the, what future practical uses do you see for robots that we're envisioning today?$$Well, let's see, that we're not envisioning.$$Or we don't have today?$$Right, okay, okay. Well, there're certain services that we currently have, and, you know, people envision robots capable of taking over some of these services, although this may not be the greatest idea. One of them is things like bartending, right? Now, there's already been recently, I think out of a university project, with college students, they've created a robot bartender, not the body of one, but something that can mechanically take the right mixtures of different types of alcohol and mix drinks. So you can imagine going from that to something that can actually deliver that to a human who asks for it. Some people may not want something like that because of the personal and interpersonal interaction with the bartender that many of us enjoy. But I foresee many areas and services, in particular, where robots would eventually contribute. I hesitate to use the words "take over" because almost behind every robot you ever see, there's typically a human nearby, and often that human is necessary for the robot to continue to work properly or even to know what it should do. The robots on Mars, for example, can do nothing unless we tell them to everyday and so forth. But other areas, we're already seeing this now actually, robots to do precision surgery, surgeries in the cases where the oscillation or vibration of a surgeon's hand can be somewhat critical. The steady hand and the accurate hand of the robot mechanism is sometimes looked at as an advantage in those cases. But not solely--that's already happening, robotic surgery. But robots can also be used over distance so that the capabilities of a master surgeon in some country for example can be used to outdo some master operation on someone in a very remote part of the planet by actually having this--taking that system there, the surgeon doesn't have to go, but through that tele-operation mechanism, they can actually do the surgery remotely using a robot on the other end. And some of that's already started as well. What I see in the future is the ability to increase the distances between which that can actually occur. And that's, I think, is very promising, particularly for regions where, that don't have access to major medical care like that. So that's another area. Another aspect is, we're already becoming pretty fully networked as a society with our own computers, our cellular devices, the Internet and so on. We have different applications like Facebook [social networking site] and what have you that are connecting people more and more and more. I think where we're going and what's gonna happen in addition to that is that robots are gonna become part of this network took. It's an interesting thing that one company has done--a robotics company, they've figure out a way to automate a warehouse that delivers goods to a front desk that fills orders. This company has recently been bought by Amazon, for example, so that they can use that system to fill their orders. This is a system where the network, the robots are networked, effectively. And an order comes in and needs to be fulfilled, it's somehow input to the system, and behind this curtain, if you will, is an army of robots that carry the products on them in bins. And they move around the warehouse to the point where the robots that have the products that are ordered come near the front, open up the curtain, human picks up the object, puts it in the package, and it's off to the shipment. So the ability to network robots, I think we're gonna find other ways to use that capability whether it's a robot in your home that supplements your security system by being able to walk around, and when there's something that occurs that's not savory or maybe a water leak or something like that, something you need to be alerted to, it's instantly networked to you somewhere. You could be in France. And so I see robots becoming part of a larger network that we're already cultivating. You might imagine that there's some undesirable associated with fully networking everything. You start to get into the science fiction of the robot takeover sorts of (laughter) concepts in movies and such. So there's something to watch out for, at least, but I think we're headed, at least more in that direction than we are today.

James Mitchell

Research chemist James W. Mitchell was born on November 16, 1943 in Durham, North Carolina as the eldest and only son of tobacco factory workers. Mitchell’s interest in chemistry stemmed from the disciplines logical principles and their reliability. Mitchell received his B.S. degree in chemistry from North Carolina A & T State University in 1965, and his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Iowa State University in 1970. His doctoral thesis focused on analytical chemistry, a branch of chemistry concerned with analyzing the characteristics and composition of matter.

Mitchell first joined AT & T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey after receiving his doctorate. He chaired the Lab’s Affirmative Action Committee and was one of the founders of the Association of Black Laboratory Employees. In 1982, Mitchell was promoted to supervisor of the Inorganic Analytical Chemistry Research Group. Mitchell became head of the Analytical Chemistry Research Department in 1975. Under his leadership the department was transformed into an internationally renowned research organization. In 1985, Mitchell was named an AT & T Bell Laboratories Fellow, and, in 1989 he was extended membership into the National Academy of Engineering. He has written nearly 100 publications with as many citations attached to his work. He earned the 1999 Lifetime Achievement in Industry Award by the National Society of Black Engineers.

In 2002, Mitchell began his tenure at Howard University. He served as the David and Lucille Packard Professor of Materials Science, Director of the CREST Nanoscale Analytical Sciences Research and Education Center, Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Dean of the College of Engineering. Mitchell has also lectured internationally. In addition, he co-authored a book, Contamination Control in Trace Analysis, published more than seventy-five scientific papers, and invented instruments and processes. He also served as a member of the editorial advisory boards of Analytical Chemistry and Mikrochimica Acta. Mitchell and his wife Jean live in Washington, D.C. They have three children.

James W. Mitchell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 11, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.236

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/11/2012

Last Name

Mitchell

Maker Category
Middle Name

W

Occupation
Schools

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Iowa State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Durham

HM ID

MIT13

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Alaskan Cruises

Favorite Quote

When times get tough, the tough get going.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/16/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Turkey, Greens (Collard), Fish, Barbecue

Short Description

Chemist James Mitchell (1943 - ) was the first African American honored as an AT&T Bell Laboratories Fellow, and is the Dean of the College of Engineering at Howard University.

Employment

Bell Laboratories

Lucent Technologies

Howard University College of Engineering

CREST Nanoscale Analytical Sciences Research and Education center

Favorite Color

Gold, Purple, Red, White

Timing Pairs
310,0:4470,95:5350,111:6310,131:6630,136:7270,150:9110,189:10310,208:15672,263:22832,332:23781,347:24365,356:25241,370:25679,377:32120,416:34760,468:35880,487:36600,502:36920,507:37240,512:38200,525:38840,534:39480,543:40200,554:42200,587:47750,630:49270,656:50150,672:53670,726:55910,761:58230,784:59270,799:60310,813:61270,827:61590,832:66579,850:67492,863:68239,872:68571,877:69733,894:70231,901:71900,928:72593,940:73097,950:73601,959:74042,967:75428,992:75995,1002:76562,1014:78011,1043:78641,1104:84833,1129:89948,1225:98063,1312:103076,1342:105169,1372:111930,1410:112262,1415:112677,1421:116635,1444:117145,1451:121410,1486:121766,1491:126928,1562:127284,1567:127818,1572:128708,1584:129153,1590:135470,1647:135926,1654:136458,1663:138054,1689:139422,1712:141980,1719:142360,1724:143025,1733:151406,1803:153494,1830:155495,1857:160280,1915:161498,1930:166066,1956:173326,2113:173590,2118:180270,2203:181020,2215:181545,2224:182070,2236:185032,2252:185402,2258:185846,2265:187178,2286:188140,2300:189028,2313:189694,2323:192358,2364:192654,2369:193024,2375:193690,2385:197728,2406:200968,2470:201256,2475:201688,2482:202912,2503:203488,2513:204496,2528:205504,2553:209827,2577:211681,2593:212196,2599:221466,2679:222048,2686:222436,2691:223212,2700:224182,2713:225928,2737:227770,2742$0,0:8907,32:10041,51:18951,164:23498,179:26427,214:29815,246:33222,274:34671,303:34923,308:37210,323:44237,393:45013,403:47147,424:50932,444:54663,484:56895,512:57546,521:59499,540:59964,546:61917,573:67638,614:70992,654:71850,667:78222,723:80242,751:83582,779:87023,803:87451,808:88414,818:89591,835:93110,861:95407,879:96208,890:96742,897:99224,927:99763,935:103151,979:105230,1015:105846,1024:106924,1045:108310,1072:108926,1082:109927,1098:110389,1106:118830,1184:119570,1195:124422,1230:131730,1262:132094,1267:133277,1283:136752,1310:138026,1325:139104,1337:140084,1348:140476,1353:140868,1358:143612,1388:155430,1457:156022,1462:157370,1469
DAStories

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

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Mitchell describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Mitchell talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Mitchell describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Mitchell describes his childhood neighborhood

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

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Mitchell talks about his parents' separation and reconciliation

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Mitchell describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Mitchell describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Mitchell talks about his elementary schools

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Mitchell talks about his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Mitchell talks about his natural ability of taking things apart and reassembling them

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Mitchell talks about what influenced him while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Mitchell talks about his involvement in church

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Mitchell talks about his interest in music

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Mitchell talks about growing up in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Mitchell talks about his childhood jobs

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Mitchell talks about the importance of education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Mitchell talks about the book rent policy in North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Mitchell talks about his father's return after a long absence

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Mitchell talks about his relationship with his mother

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Mitchell talks about his experience at the summer science program at North Carolina Central University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Mitchell talks about his high school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Mitchell talks about his decision to attend North Carolina A&T University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Mitchell talks about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement (part one)

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Mitchell talks about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement (part two)

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Mitchell talks about the segregation at North Carolina A&T State University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Mitchell talks about his mentors at North Carolina A&T State University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Mitchell talks about his college experience

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Mitchell talks about his summer employment during college

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Mitchell talks about his decision to attend Iowa State University for his Ph.D. degree

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Mitchell talks about his friend, Dr. Reginald Mitchner

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Mitchell talks about his experience at Iowa State University and his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Mitchell talks about his experience at Iowa State University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Mitchell describes his dissertation on the separation of rare earth elements

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Mitchell talks about the practical applications of his research on the separation of rare earth elements

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Mitchell talks about his employment prospects after graduating from Iowa State University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Mitchell talks about the assassinations of prominent figures during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Mitchell talks about the work environment at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Mitchell talks about his work at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Mitchell talks about his patents

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Mitchell talks about his professional activities and awards

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Mitchell talks about AT&T Bell Laboratories' merger with Lucent Technologies

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Mitchell talks about his mentorship activities at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Mitchell talks about his colleagues at Bell Laboratories/Lucent Technologies

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Mitchell talks about his career at Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Mitchell talks about his goals for the college of engineering at Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Mitchell describes the challenges he faces as dean of the college of engineering

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Mitchell talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Mitchell reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Mitchell reflects on his life choices

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Mitchell talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Mitchell talks about his parents' reaction to his success

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Mitchell shares his advice for young people

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Mitchell talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
James Mitchell talks about the work environment at Bell Laboratories
James Mitchell talks about his goals for the college of engineering at Howard University
Transcript
Okay, so, and so, after graduating in 1970, so you joined Bell Labs [Bell Laboratories]. Now, this is, as you said, Bell Labs has been touted by the people we've interviewed as one of the greatest places to work. Of course, the culture is destroyed now, but at that time, it was a scientist's dream.$$It absolutely was one of the best corporate research facilities on Planet Earth. It was run by managers who had first been accomplished scientists themselves. You didn't get to be a manager at the AT&T Bell Laboratories Research Facility unless you were an extraordinary researcher first. And so the people in charge of the place understood what was necessary in an environment in order for it to be essentially perfect from the standpoint of supporting, fostering and allowing scientific and technological excellence to take place. I had the blessings of enjoying Bell Laboratories for thirty years. It was the type of environment where you couldn't believe that you were paid to do something that was so enjoyable and to do it under conditions that were so excellent.$$Yeah, it's hardly anyone that says something like that, but that's, those who talk about Bell Labs do speak that highly of it. So, for instance, what made it such an enjoyable place to work?$$Well, it was such an enjoyable place to work because money was not an obstacle to accomplishing the impossible. If a young person had an idea about something and it had a finite probability of being feasible, the only thing you had to do was convince the manager of your organization that this idea concept was worth pursuing and that if brought to fruition, its scientific impact would be extraordinary, and it was possible for you to do that. That could be done in a conversation and on one page. It didn't require a 300-page research proposal. So you could pursue extraordinary research ideas and so forth without exhaustive inputs and justifications before the fact. You had colleagues on your hallway who were experts in virtually all aspects of science and technology. You could learn in a thirty-minute conversation with one of your colleagues what would require you three months of digging through the literature and research in order to acquire the knowledge. You could almost instantly generate a collaboration with anyone, excellent people will collaborate at a finger snap with other excellent people. And you had access. If you indicated that you worked at Bell Laboratories, that almost immediately gave you access to collaborations with anybody else in the country. And so it was just an amazing place where the money, the infrastructure, the intellect, the vision and all of those things came together that allowed important science to be done.$Okay, so that's 2009. Now, so, just tell us about what you're doing as dean here and what your prospects are as well as for the college?$$As a dean, I believe the most important responsibility I have is to put in place the underpinnings and the structure of the College of Engineering such that in the next century we are able to implement, establish and grow entrepreneurships, intellectual property, technology parks and businesses. Howard University is not going to be a greater university than it has been until we have done what the other universities do, establish technology parks, establish intellectual property and have a gigantic foundation with funding sufficient for us to accomplish anything on our own, if necessary. And so I see my greatest goal is to lay the foundation for pursuing that long-term goal. And so we have, are in the midst of restructuring the college to pursue that. We are in the midst of working with the faculty to recruit entrepreneurial professors, individuals who see the business aspect of science as important as the knowledge aspect of science and who want to operate in both arenas. And my job is to hopefully work with the upper-level management here and transform the environment from one of teaching excellence with science done in addition to it, but one of scientific and engineering excellence that even surpasses by far the teaching legacy of excellence that we have. And so that's the unfinished job that exists.

Darnell Eugene Diggs

Research physicist Darnell Eugene Diggs was born on May 20, 1970, in Tuskegee, Alabama to Janie Mae Davenport Diggs and John Diggs. Diggs and his twin sister were the youngest in a family of fifteen children. Diggs attended Pike County Elementary School and Pike County High School, where he was registered in advanced placement classes and played the trumpet in the school marching band.

Diggs followed in his family’s tradition by enrolling at Alabama A&M University in Normal, Alabama. While a freshman, he majored in business management and sang in the university choir. Diggs changed his major to physics at the end of his sophomore year after performing well in a physical science class and graduated with his B.S. degree in physics in 1988. Inspired by members of the National Conference of Black Physics Students and the Society of Physics Students where he served as president, Diggs remained at Alabama A&M University where he earned his M.S. degree in physics in 1997. After internships at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama, Diggs earned his Ph.D. degree in physics in 2001. Diggs was hired by the United States Air Force Research Laboratory as a research physicist in 2002; there, he worked to improve polymer-based electro-optic modulators that provide critical advantages over devices made from other materials. Through his work, Diggs collaborated with Tyndall Air Force Base, Georgia Tech Research Institute, the Army Strategic Missile Command, the University of Dayton, and Alabama A&M University.

In 2004, Diggs received the Black Engineer of the Year Award in the category of Promising Scientist in Government. Science Spectrum Magazine named Diggs one of the 50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science in 2004, and a Top Minority in Science in 2005. The World Year of Physics 2005 also recognized Diggs as one of five Distinguished African American Physicists. In 2006, Diggs was invited to speak at the U.S. Air Force & Taiwan Nanoscience Initiative held in Taipei, Taiwan. In 2007, he became president of the Dayton Alumni Extension for the National Society of Black Engineers. Diggs also served as an ordained Elder in the Church of God in Christ.

Darnell Eugene Diggs was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 25, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.028

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/25/2008

Last Name

Diggs

Maker Category
Middle Name

Eugene

Occupation
Schools

Pike County High School

Pike County Elementary School

Alabama A&M University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Darnell

Birth City, State, Country

Tuskegee

HM ID

DIG01

Favorite Season

Christmas

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sydney, Australia

Favorite Quote

I can, and I will.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

5/20/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dayton

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Green Beans

Short Description

Physicist Darnell Eugene Diggs (1970 - ) worked at the United States Air Force Research Laboratory, on the United States Air Force's development of new optoelectronic devices.

Employment

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue, Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:5251,104:5607,109:7921,234:11214,307:11659,313:12638,325:13706,338:14151,344:18423,412:26779,495:30500,515:34820,648:39700,798:45560,844:46169,853:50519,908:52085,926:53042,939:56087,988:56696,997:59393,1045:60263,1056:66474,1082:66929,1088:83075,1269:83675,1278:86000,1327:89284,1367:89900,1376:90285,1383:97985,1559:98524,1568:99140,1575:100372,1597:101219,1610:101835,1619:119425,1903:119936,1911:120593,1921:121907,1941:122564,1951:127254,1970:134476,2075:135214,2085:144080,2241:154420,2337:155300,2347:158648,2366:161097,2413:165580,2473$0,0:8174,94:10126,122:17890,161:18310,167:19234,183:19570,188:21418,209:22510,225:22846,230:24694,253:30282,318:30612,324:30876,329:31470,339:32064,349:32592,358:33054,366:33318,371:33582,376:42344,462:42956,478:43296,483:44180,497:44656,505:46968,549:47648,560:48056,567:48532,575:51380,596:61384,745:69217,835:70883,856:90454,1145:92148,1195:92610,1202:97230,1274:98154,1290:98539,1296:111437,1439:113112,1464:113715,1475:114184,1480:115122,1503:115524,1510:118807,1585:119075,1590:119343,1595:121353,1656:122090,1668:122492,1686:126043,1765:127182,1787:133340,1854:137798,1921:139072,1935:148895,2061:149220,2067:151560,2146:151950,2153:152470,2162:152795,2168:155410,2190:156434,2217:157074,2227:158098,2249:163794,2357:168210,2466:171026,2527:172050,2545:173906,2591:174162,2596:184586,2728:200660,3065:201650,3078:207790,3124:210850,3167:219830,3316:220382,3347:226592,3456:227006,3467:227558,3477:228731,3509:231077,3597:234872,3657:236252,3691:236528,3696:237908,3701:243690,3769
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Darnell Diggs' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Darnell Diggs shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Darnell Diggs talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Darnell Diggs talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Darnell Diggs talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Darnell Diggs recalls how the Civil Rights Movement influenced his family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Darnell Diggs talks about his childhood neighborhood and home

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Darnell Diggs describes his childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Darnell Diggs talks about his participation in church during his youth

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Darnell Diggs describes his childhood school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Darnell Diggs tells a story about how his father was hurt by a cow

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Darnell Diggs talks about the culture of blues music in Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Darnell Diggs describes his experience at Pike County High School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Darnell Diggs recalls his decision to attend Alabama A&M University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Darnell Diggs talks about his experience at Alabama A&M University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Darnell Diggs recalls his initial poor performance in physics during college

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Darnell Diggs talks about the development of his interest in physics

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Darnell Diggs talks about a conversation with the black physicist, Bill Gates

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Darnell Diggs talks about working at NASA Space Camp

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Darnell Diggs continues to talk about space camp and his other jobs during college

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Darnell Diggs talks about his academic and extra-curricular activities during college

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Darnell Diggs talks about his graduate school experience at Alabama A&M

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Darnell Diggs talks about his graduate school mentors and his master's thesis

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Darnell Diggs describes his internship at the University of Wisconsin Madison

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Darnell Diggs describes his Ph.D. research and its applications from Alabama A&M

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Darnell Diggs recalls his difficulties in graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Darnell Diggs recalls his first job at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Darnell Diggs describes his work with organic materials that have light emitting properties

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Darnell Diggs responds to a question about being publicly recognized

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Darnell Diggs advises budding scientists

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Darnell Diggs discusses his philosophy on science and religion

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Darnell Diggs discusses the underrepresentation of African Americans in physics

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Darnell Diggs describes his continuing education and plans for the future

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Darnell Diggs discusses his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Darnell Diggs talks about his colleagues, family, and friends

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Darnell Diggs talks about his church life

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Darnell Diggs talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

6$10

DATitle
Darnell Diggs describes his Ph.D. research and its applications from Alabama A&M
Darnell Diggs responds to a question about being publicly recognized
Transcript
Okay, all right, well, tell us about the Ph.D.. Now, you went to the, you received your Ph.D. from the same school--$$I did.$$--Alabama A&M [Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, Huntsville, Alabama]. Now, how many, is it unusual for, well, I know it is, because there aren't many traditionally black colleges or historically black colleges that have Ph.D. programs in the hard sciences?$$Right, not many. I wanna say, Alabama A&M, I think Howard [University, Washington D.C.] and, Howard, I wanna say Norfolk State[University, Norfolk, Virginia] maybe and Hampton [University, Hampton, Virginia]. I think those four offer a Ph.D. in physics. I don't wanna say TSU, Tennessee State [University, Nashville, Tennessee]. I think they are in engineering, something like that but not in physics.$$Okay, so that is unusual. So, now, what was your Ph.D. dissertation?$$My Ph.D. dissertation was in chemical sensing, chemical and biological sensing which is relevant for the Air Force in terms of being able to sense and detect harmful biological agents.$$Okay, so that is about that, sensing harmful biological agents.$$Yeah, um-hum.$$Okay, now how, what's the application of that, I guess activity?$$Now, like if they feel that the next wave will be perhaps chemical warfare. So if I come into your environment and release something that you can't see or smell or taste, like carbon monoxide which is very deadly and you can't see it and you can't taste it, you can't smell it. So that's why people succumb to it. But there are devices in place that can detect those harmful agents, although the physical senses can't pick it up. And so like even if Iraq, if someone comes and puts some deadly pathogen in your water supply and you don't know it's there, then you'll drink it unknowingly, and could possibly die. But then there are devices you can make to put in the water and say okay, there's something there or improvised explosive devices which is a chemical. You can say, okay, you can scan the area and say, okay, that's TNT or RDX, which say that's a potential harmful device there, so.$$Okay, so what specific substances did you, were you able to detect through your (unclear)--$$We did, to demonstrate the proof of concept, we did, we detect ammonia and we mixed it in different ambient air, like under so many parts per million because of those, it'd be very sensitive to (unclear) the system, the smallest amount in the greatest volume of air.$$$Okay, all right. Now, what's been, I guess--now, you've been, you've received quite a bit of recognition in the past few years. There's been, you received the Black Engineer of the Year Award in 2004 in the category of the most promising scientist in government. You received, you were recognized as one of the top fifty Most Important Blacks in Research Science that same year. In 2005, you received the top Minority in Science Trailblazer Award. You were also one of the five distinguished African American physicists to appear in a National television public service announcement for the World Year of Physicists in 2005 in celebration of Albert Einstein. I mean there's a lot of--you were profiled at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry too, I think, for black creativity back in 2005. So what, I mean, do you have a response to all this recognition? I mean, you know--$$When people ask me, I give them the real answer. I mean I like it, but when they say how do you, how did it happen? I just, I tell them God. I mean I don't, God and prayer, and being, I guess being in the right place at the right time. I don't know. That Black Engineer of the Year Award was, that's highly competitive, and I won that, being, only being like, being on the job a year and six or eight months. And I was, you know, in the category competing with people who had been on the job for a while. And the guy who was on the committee that they select, he was telling me that because I was a Sunday school teacher, and I was tutoring, and I was active with the youth, cause you're more than just an engineer or a scientists. You have to be communally responsible also. And he was like, a lot of the applications don't, they highlight all of their educational credentials and never show where they give anything back to the community. He was like, that part of me pushed me over the top. So.$$Okay, I think it's a stereotypical image of scientists, you know, rocket scientists or something, you know, lab coat, in a laboratory all day, kind of myopic in their views, you know, and not really participating in the community, you know, just always thinking about calculations and, you know, that--I mean, so you don't fit that stereotype?$$No, because I agree with Carter G. Woodson, if you do that, then you're clearly not educated. I really believe that because again, I said earlier, that education is not merely the impartation of knowledge. Education is also the communication of experience to a race. So I have a responsibility to educate and a responsibility to help somebody else along the way. You can have a degree and miss the education is what I'm saying, so.$$Okay, do you speak to a lot of young people?$$Often, yeah. I do a lot of public speaking in, here in Dayton [Ohio], Alabama. I spoke to a lot of the universities here too, UD [University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio], Wright State [University, Dayton, Ohio], and on base [Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio]. I do like the Black History. I did the MLK [Martin Luther King] ceremony for another agency here on base in January. So I just did like, did U-D's diversity lecture series a couple of weeks ago.$$And you enjoy speaking?$$I love speaking, love public speaking, yes. I love telling people my story, love telling me what they, you know, encourage people that they can do whatever they wanna do and not to live their lives in the words or thoughts of other people and don't see them as, you know, they're just obstacles, you know, that's all. But find a way to overcome it. They can believe what they want. When someone tells you they can't, you can't do something, what they're saying is that they can't, not you. So. You know, (unclear) I believe like that, yeah.

Julian Manly Earls

Physicist and federal government administrator Julian Manly Earls was born on November 22, 1942 in Portsmouth, Virginia to James and Ida Deberry Earls. He graduated from Crestwood High School in Chesapeake, Virginia in 1960 and went on to earn his B.S. degree in physics from Norfolk State University in 1964. Upon the advice of his mentor, Dr. Roy A. Woods, Earls attended the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry to obtain his M.S. degree in radiation biology in 1965. Earls then moved to Cleveland to work at NASA for six years at the Lewis Research Center. NASA sponsored Earls to obtain his Ph.D. degree in radiation physics at the University of Michigan in 1973. Also, while working at NASA, he graduated from the Harvard Business School Program for Management Development in 1978.

Working at NASA for over forty years, Earls became NASA's first black section head, first black office chief, first black division chief, first black deputy director, and NASA's second black center director. Earls was hired as the director of the Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio in 2003. As center director, Earls has been responsible for research, technology and systems development programs in aeronautical propulsion, space propulsion, space power, space communications, and microgravity sciences. He manages an annual budget and oversees all employees and contractors. Earls has written several publications for technical and educational journals. He also wrote NASA’s first health physics guides. On two occasions, he has been awarded NASA medals for exceptional achievement and outstanding leadership and has received the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive for career Senior Executive Service (SES) members.

Earls has been awarded honorary degrees by Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in Queens, New York, Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. He has been a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Technical Association, the National Society of Black Engineers, the National Society of Black Physicists, the Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology, the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. An avid runner, he has run at least twenty-five marathons and was given the honor of being a torchbearer for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. Earls and his wife, Zenobia, reside in Beachwood, Ohio. They have two sons, Gregory and Julian, Jr., and one granddaughter, Madisyn Chandler.

Julian Earls was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 10, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.006

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/10/2005

Last Name

Earls

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Manly

Schools

Crestwood High School

Crestwood Middle School

I.C. Norcom High School

Norfolk State University

University of Rochester

University of Michigan

Harvard Business School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Julian

Birth City, State, Country

Portsmouth

HM ID

EAR02

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Los Angeles, California

Favorite Quote

God did not give anybody everything, but He gave everybody something.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

11/22/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pie (Lemon Meringue)

Short Description

Federal government administrator and physicist Julian Manly Earls (1942 - ) worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for over forty years, and has served as the director of the NASA's Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

Employment

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Lewis Research Center

Cuyahoga Community College

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Julian Earls' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Julian Earls shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Julian Earls talks about his parents and grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Julian Earls remembers the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood and talks about his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Julian Earls talks about his four brothers and two sisters

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Julian Earls describes his parent's jobs as well as family holidays

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Julian Earls talks about growing up in the Union Holiness Pentecostal Church

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Julian Earls talks about his elementary, junior high, and high school years

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Julian Earls remembers the segregated schools in Virginia and graduating from Crestwood High School

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Julian Earls talks about his decision to attend Norfolk State University

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Julian Earls describes his professors at Norfolk State University

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Julian Earls talks about going to graduate school and his early years at NASA

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Julian Earls remembers his promotions at NASA, the Carl Stokes mayoral election, and the contributions of Congressman Louis Stokes

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Julian Earls talks about NASA's contracts with minority and women-owned firms and making science fun for young people

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Julian Earls talks about increasing African American participation in engineering and physics

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Julian Earls talks about the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, the Boule, and his mentors at NASA

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Julian Earls talks about affirmative action

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Julian Earls talks about NASA's equal employment opportunity office and the values of NASA

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Julian Earls tells stories about Guion "Guy" Bluford and Mae Jemison.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Julian Earls talks about the NASA astronaut program

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Julian Earls talks about his wife, Zenobia, and their two sons, Julian Earls, Jr. and Gregory Earls

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Julian Earls talks about Cleveland public schools

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Julian Earls discusses civil rights, education, and the importance of stable family structures

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Julian Earls talks about Ohio and the 2004 Presidential Election

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Julian Earls talks about his long distance running

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Julian Earls talks about Dr. Willie Ray "Karimi" Mackey

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Julian Earls talks about mentoring and Northeast Ohio as home

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Julian Earls talks about the difference between the North and the South

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Julian Earls explains how science and technology are good for the economy and a global society

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Julian Earls talks about ethics in science and technology

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Julian Earls talks about the ethics of cloning

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Julian Earls shares his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Julian Earls describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Julian Earls remembers his promotions at NASA, the Carl Stokes mayoral election, and the contributions of Congressman Louis Stokes
Julian Earls tells stories about Guion "Guy" Bluford and Mae Jemison.
Transcript
All right, so again, I'm looking at what's happening at the, I guess we say, the macro level. In '64 [1964], you said you didn't have a clue. But I would think by the late '60s [1960s] when you're here in Cleveland [Ohio] in the era of the, well, the tenure of Carl Stokes as mayor, you must have known that history was being made?$$Oh, absolutely, and it was at that point that I really became active in trying to encourage black youngsters to focus upon math and science and increase the numbers of black scientists and engineers by increasing the number of black students who took those courses. And I joined an organization called the National Technical Association, an organization of black scientists, engineers, architects that had been founded in Chicago in 1925. And once I found out about that organization, I decided that we needed to form a Cleveland chapter. And we formed the chapter here in Cleveland and started working with youngsters in the local school system. Our first program was established a Kirk Middle High School in East Cleveland. And we, second, next we moved out into the Warrenville school system. And we had black scientists, engineers, technologists working at any number of different companies here in Cleveland, Ohio. And we would go out on Saturday mornings into the schools and take projects for the students and also had a parental involvement section where the parents would be involved and would have to essentially agree that they would work with the students. And some sessions, they would actually come with the students on Saturday morning. But that was one of the efforts. And then I started right here within NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration], people blame me for the being the catalyst for starting the movement that said, look, not only do we need more black people working within NASA, but we need to make sure that we have black people in true, powerful management positions here at NASA. And at that time, we didn't have blacks who were managers, section heads, branch chiefs, division chiefs and so forth. And I became the first black section head at NASA. I was the first black office chief. I was the first black division chief. I was the first black deputy director, but I was the second black center director. But back in those days, back in '64 [1964], '65 [1965], we have records and archives of things that we did to make the points that we needed to open up opportunities for blacks here within NASA, Lewis Research Center at the time. But then, we were the catalyst for any number of changes within the agency for black employees. And, of course, being in Cleveland, when Carl Stokes was elected mayor, you would have to live in a cave not to know the importance of the activities that were going on at that time.$$Okay. Okay, so that was '67 [1967]--$$That's right.$$--his first victory?$$That's right.$$Do you remember the election night--$$I certainly do.$$--when it was announced?$$I certainly do.$$I watched a video in the 'Eyes on the Prize' series and I saw people dancing in the street.$$(Laughter).$$Were you a part of that crowd?$$I was not dancing on the street, but I was dancing in my living room. That's for sure (laughter).$$Did you ever have an opportunity to work with Mayor Stokes?$$No, but I worked with his brother back in those days. And I really call him my hero. Congressman Louis Stokes and I forged a relationship when things needed to be changed within NASA. And I credit him for all the progress that has been made within NASA as an agency, with progress that has been made for people of color and females. I credit him especially with the progress that has been made with the small disadvantaged businesses because it was Congressman Stokes who attached to the NASA appropriations bill, a requirement that eight percent of all contract dollars in NASA had to be spent with small disadvantaged businesses in the set-aside program. He was the architect of that which is a requirement that still exists to this day at this agency.$$Okay, and so those things are coming into being in the '60s [1960s] to the 1970s, in that era?$$Yes, that's--$$So more than a generation ago?$$Yes.$I mean I'm just so proud of them. And so, I don't know if that's because NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] is pushing them out front and saying, here's a role model or if they just have that excellence, that's part of that formula you just told me about. Were they just that cream, you know, that just rose to the top?$$Well, I have to tell you my Guy Bluford [Guion "Guy" S. Bluford, Jr.] story.$$Okay.$$I applied to be an astronaut in 1977. That was the same year that Guy Bluford applied, Fred Gregory [Frederick D. Gregory] applied, Ron McNair [Ronald Ervin McNair] applied. Guy Bluford and I were born on the same day, November 22, 1942. And I kid Guy because I tell him he was born at 10:00 a.m. in the morning. I was born at 4:15 in the afternoon, and NASA, as a tie breaker, went with the old man. That's why he got in the Astronaut Corp and I didn't. But I've worked with those astronauts. When Guy was launched, his was the first night launch of the shuttle, and I was the speaker for the Education program at Kennedy Space Center [The John F. Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida] when Guy Bluford went on the first flight as the first African American in space. And Guy subsequently retired from the Astronaut Corp and came to work here at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland [Ohio]. He was a program manager for a major contract here and is still living here in the Cleveland area.$$And how about Mae Jemison [Mae C. Jemison]? Have you had a chance to work with her?$$Absolutely. Mae and I talked, before Mae's launch, the last six months before Mae launched, Mae's launch, she and I must have talked at least once a week about some of the issues and some of the challenges confronting her as the first African American female going in space. As a matter of fact, one of the things that she and I talked about was she did a down link from her shuttle mission with the Chicago school system, which she's a product of the Chicago school system. And so we worked that, and I've been in touch with her since that time. She's absolutely--I maintain that NASA has a little back room where they build perfect people to make them into astronauts. And that's why I never got selected to (laughter) to be an astronaut.