Dr. George R. Carruthers, 1987 winner of the Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) for Outstanding Technical Contribution, has been featured in Physics Today, the membership magazine of the American Institute of Physics.
When the trailblazing physicist won the BEYA for technical contribution in 1987, Carruthers was one of 40 Black scientists and engineers working at the National Research Laboratory.
In his US Black Engineer magazine citation by the BEYA selection committee, Carruthers was praised for technical contributions to the U.S. Navy and the defense department’s space program, and his development of man’s first moon-based space observatory, which was carried aloft by the Apollo 16 astronauts and placed on the moon.
His experiment, a specially constructed Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph, permitted humans to observe the terrestrial upper atmosphere from the lunar surface for the first time and to observe celestial objects and the interplanetary medium.
NASA’s Skylab 4 used the Carruthers-developed far ultraviolet camera to photograph two NASA-sponsored rockets flown from the White Sands Missile Range to obtain invisible images of Comet Halley. These rockets, along with two others flown at the same time, were among only a few U.S.-sponsored space experiments to collect data on the comet.
Carruthers earned his bachelor’s in aeronautical engineering, a master’s in nuclear engineering, and a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering, all from the University of Illinois. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he moved to Chicago with his family when he was 12. He was an active member of the National Technical Association, which marks its 90th birthday this year.