The Future is Inclusivity: STEM in Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month, we are highlighting a few notable pioneers within science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (S.T.E.M), that paved the way and opened doors for more minorities.

What is life without Google? Imagine not being able to pull up a quick fact check on the internet? That life did exist and not too long ago, either. But, thanks to Alan Emtage and his groundwork in creating the world’s first search engine, we can all enjoy a plethora of search tools such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and many others. In 1989, Alan Emtage conceived and implemented Archie, the world’s first Internet search engine. Emtage created the system while as a student and working as a systems administrator for the School of Computer Science at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He was responsible for locating software for the students and faculty. The urgency for searching information in a timely manner became the fuel for the invention. The name Archie stands for Archives with out the “v”. In addition to his recognition for Archie, Emtage is a founding member of the Internet Society and went on to create and chair other working groups at the Internet Engineering Task Force. Alan Emtage co-chaired the Uniform Resource Identifier, which then created and codified URLs (Uniform Resource Locators). 

Meet Laura Weidman Powers, the Co-Founder and former CEO of Code2040. Code2040, is a non-profit organization, breaking barriers to diversify the technology industry. This is one of the largest racial equity communities in technology. Furthermore, this organization supports black and latinx entrepreneurs and technologists through events, trainings, and early-career programs, and knowledge sharing. Laura received her BA from Harvard University; JD and MBA from Stanford University, where she met her co-founder Tristan Walker. The New York native first began her tech career as a project manager in a small web development company. She also served as VP of product at a consumer web start up. Laura Weidman Powers formerly worked at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during President Barack Obama’s administration. 

Your favorite childhood toy, the Super Soaker, was created by Lonnie G. Johnson. “I accidentally shot a stream of water across a bathroom where I was doing an experiment and thought to myself, ‘This would make a great gun’,” said Johnson on his inspiration for creating The Super Soaker. Long before the invention of the Super Soaker, Johnson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from Tuskegee University. Upon completion of graduation, Johnson joined the U.S. Air Force, where he worked on the stealth bomber program. Subsequently, Lonnie G. Johnson began working as an engineer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1979. He also worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Mars Observer project, and the Cassini mission to Saturn. Lonnie G. Johnson holds over 100 patents and has earned multiple awards from NASA for his spacecraft control systems. From the success of his career Lonnie has been fortunate to work for himself and fund his own research in green technology. 

Growing up in the 1970s, roboticist Dr. Ayanna Howard was inspired by the TV Show the Bionic Woman. The show featured a woman who used her bionic limbs to complete spy missions. At an early age, she instantly knew that she wanted to create artificial limbs for people. Receiving her Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from Brown University in 1993. She then moved on to the University of Southern California to complete her master’s and Doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering. Ayanna began her career working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. In 2013, she founded Zyrobotics, which is currently licensing technology derived from her research. Since then, the company has released their first suite of therapy and educational products for children with differing needs. Dr. Ayanna Howard is currently a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. As an Educator, Author, and Roboticist, Dr. Ayanna Howard continues to further her research and developing new ways that robots can help both in space exploration and in assisting people on earth. She has developed a math and science mentoring program for junior high school girls.