According to a report from 1987, the representation of Black engineers among the 1.6 million engineers in the United States was only 2%, which equates to approximately 32,000 men and women.
This was the year when the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) was first presented at a STEM conference organized by Career Communications Group’s US Black Engineer magazine and engineering deans from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to promote STEM education.
The first Black Engineer of the Year Award was given to Dr. John B. Slaughter in 1987. He has been recognized for his 50-year career dedicated to increasing diversity in science and engineering.
Erroll B. Davis Jr. was awarded the Black Engineer of the Year in 1988. He served as the president and CEO of WPL Holdings from 1990 to 1998. He also held executive positions at Xerox Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and Wisconsin Power and Light Company.
In the eleventh episode of Career Communications Group’s High-Tech Sunday podcast, Capt. Donnie Cochran, the 1989 Black Engineer of the Year, shared his experience as the first Black pilot to fly with The Blue Angels, the flight demonstration squadron of the United States Navy. Cochran had a distinguished career as a fighter pilot, flying the RF-8G and F-14A & D from aircraft carriers.
During the 1990s, the BEYA winners were mostly astronauts and executives in the aviation and aerospace industries, telecommunications, energy, and global research and development (R&D).
They also included university professors, federal IT directors, and career soldiers. While several women won category awards, male engineers dominated the top awards during this decade.
In the 2000s, at least four female winners were selected, including a college president of one of the world’s oldest technological universities, trailblazing leaders of federally funded research and development centers, and a corporate executive in defense contracting.
The following is a list of the Black Engineer of the Year award recipients from the 1980s to the 2020s. The list celebrates the contributions of black engineers who have made an impact in various fields.
In 1987, there were approximately 32,000 black engineers among the 1.6 million engineers in the United States, representing only 2% of the total. The first recipient of the Black Engineer of the Year Award was Dr. John B. Slaughter in 1987. In 1982, Dr. Slaughter was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Erroll B. Davis Jr. was the Black Engineer of the Year in 1988, while Captain Donnie Cochran received the award in 1989.
The list of Black Engineer of the Year award recipients in the 1990s includes Arlington W. Carter (1990), Guion “Guy” Stewart Bluford (1991), Arnold F. Stancell (1992), James W. Mitchell (1993), William R. Wiley (1994), Walt W. Braithwaite (1995), Albert J. Edmonds (1996), Arthur Johnson (1997), Joe N. Ballard (1998), and Paul Caldwell (1999).
The Black Engineer of the Year award recipients in the 2000s are Mark E. Dean (2000), Shirley Ann Jackson (2001), Rodney O’Neal (2002), Lydia Thomas (2003), Anthony James (2004), William D. Smith (2005), Linda C. Gooden (2006), Rodney C. Adkins (2007), Reginald Van Lee (2008), and Wanda M. Austin (2009).
The Black Engineer of the Year award recipients in the 2010s are John D. Harris (2010), Lloyd Howell (2011), David L. Steward (2012), Freeman A. Hrabowski (2013), Stephanie C. Hill (2014), Ed T. Welburn (2015), Christopher T. Jones (2016), Eugene DeLoatch (2017), Alicia Boler Davis (2018), and Anthony Mitchell (2019).
The list of Black Engineer of the Year award recipients in the 2020s includes Lieutenant General Bruce T. Crawford (2020), Gerald Johnson (2021), Ted Colbert (2022), and Dr. Colin Parris (2023). These individuals have made significant contributions to their respective fields, including the U.S. Army, General Motors, Boeing Global Services, and GE Digital.