Black scientists, engineers and mathematicians have a legacy that our College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) proudly supports. We honor the triumphs of black students, alumni, professors and staff in our college, our communities and our country. CEC proudly celebrates Black History Month (February 1 – March 1, 2023).

Black HistoryPictured from left to right: Katherine Johnson ( Photo credit: NASA), Deidra Hodges, Jerry Lawson, Darryl Dickerson.

In 1962, mathematician Katherine Johnson played a crucial role in helping the first American to orbit Earth come home safely. John Glenn, the astronaut, was wary of trusting his life solely to computer equations, which were prone to hiccups. He asked engineers to “get the girl”—Johnson—to test the same equations programmed into the computer. She verified them by hand. The flight was successful, and it marked a turning point in the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

In the 1970s, video games were usually built into a system and could not be sold on their own—until electronics engineer Jerry Lawson came along. Dubbed, “the father of the videogame cartridge,” Lawson led efforts at Fairchild Semiconductor to create the first swappable game. These cartridges could be inserted and removed from the console with ease. The fruits of Lawson’s leadership were felt across the world as video game cartridges dominated the industry for decades to come.

Deidra Hodges, an Associate Professor with expertise in photovoltaics and solar energy, is the first black professor to serve as a department chair in the college. “In her relatively short time with us, Dr. Hodges has already become a well-respected educator and role model for our diverse FIU community, which is vital to our goal of growing minority representation in the field,” said John L. Volakis, dean of the college. “With her background in academia and industry, her research initiatives, and her collaboration with government laboratories and agencies, she will continue to lead the department in its development of technologies that will have a significant impact across the globe.”
Read more about D. Hodges.

Darryl Dickerson is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering with research interest in mechanical characterization of biological interfaces, design of bioinspired materials, modeling of biological interfaces, natural biopolymer-metal complexation, model-informed in vivo bioreactor biomaterial design, and biophysical control of induced pluripotent cells.
Read more about D. Dickerson.