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Three African-Americans Claim Rare Engineering Accomplishment

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire Contributor

The National Academy of Engineering has 83 new members this year, including a rare three African-Americans who are scheduled to be inducted in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on September 30.

Pictured: Gary S. May (Courtesy of Georgia Tech College of Engineering), Gabriel C. Ejebe (Courtesy of National Academy of Engineering), Lynden Archer (center) (Courtesy Cornell University)

Lynden A. Archer, a James Friend Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering in the Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; Gary S. May, chancellor of the University of California, Davis; and Gabriel C. Ejebe, the senior project manager for energy trading and markets for Open Access Technology International in Minneapolis; are the three African-American fellows.

“I think African-American participation in engineering is crucial,” said Archer, who joined the faculty at Cornell in 2000.

Archer has earned recognition by the academy for “advances in nanoparticle-polymer hybrid materials and in electrochemical energy storage technologies.”

A graduate of the University of Southern California where he majored in chemical engineering, Archer holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Stanford University.

“We basically live in an era where engineering and science are essentially at the forefront of both human advancement and creating wealth,” Archer said.

“It’s crucial to encourage minority and African-American youngsters to train their creativity in this field … it prepares you for so many things,” he said.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering counts among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.

Academy membership reportedly honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/ implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

The academy does not disclose the racial makeup of its membership, but past Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (JBHE) research has shown that Blacks make up about one percent of the members.

According to an analysis of the new membership list by JBHE, it appears that there are three Black engineers among the 83 new members. Two of the three – Archer and May – have current academic affiliations.

The new members bring the total number of U.S. members to 2,293, according to JBHE.

“I am honored to be included in the National Academy of Engineering Class of 2018,” said May, the seventh chancellor of UC Davis and one-time dean of the College of Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

“It is gratifying to be recognized for my research in semiconductor manufacturing and for creating programs to encourage underrepresented groups to pursue STEM careers,” said May, a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology who earned selection to the academy for his contributions to semiconductor manufacturing research and for innovations in educational programs for underrepresented groups in engineering.

A St. Louis, Missouri, native, May holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Despite his success, he said there’s still a glaring need for more individuals of color in engineering.

“We need more diversity in engineering so that we solve problems that take into account all experiences and perspectives. I encourage young people who are interested in engineering to seek mentors who can help them get on a path that works for them,” May said.

“My early experience with the National Society of Black Engineers was invaluable, and I’m still involved with them. All of us can and should play a role in inspiring people of all ages to find ways to follow their dreams,” he said.

The third African American in this year’s cohort of new members is Gabriel C. Ejebe, the senior project manager for energy trading and markets for Open Access Technology International in Minneapolis.

Ejebe could not immediately be reached for comment.

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