Once a bootstrapping startup, Morgan State University’s School of Engineering has grown into a top producer of engineers for the American workforce. That success is due in no small part to the work of one man: Eugene M. DeLoatch
Dr. DeLoatch is founding dean of the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering at Morgan State University, a position he assumed in July 1984. Clarence Mitchell (March 8, 1911 ‒ March 19, 1984) was a civil rights activist and chief lobbyist for the NAACP for nearly 30 years.
In the summer of 1990, when the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering building was still being built—-with sixteen teaching laboratories and five research laboratories—Dr. DeLoatch told the Baltimore Sun about the other challenges facing his program’s future.
Among them: Regional employers that were cool to form relationships with Maryland’s public urban university engineering program or even hire its graduates.
Dr. DeLoatch also acknowledged in July of 1990 that although corporate response had been underwhelming, there were “notable exceptions,” such as Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Westinghouse Electric Corp., and Martin Marietta Corp., which merged with Lockheed Corporation in 1995 to form Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Drivers and Motivation
Since 1960 Dr. DeLoatch has helped stretch the boundaries for engineering students.
Prior to assuming the position of dean of Morgan State’s School of Engineering, he was a full professor and chairman of the department of electrical engineering (1975–1984) at Howard University. He left his position as chair and professor at Howard to become dean of engineering at Morgan State.
He holds Bachelor of Science degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering earned at Tougaloo College (1959) and Lafayette College (1959) respectively. His advanced degrees are a Master of Science in electrical engineering (1966) and a Ph.D. in bioengineering (1972), which were both received from the Polytechnic University of Brooklyn. He served as faculty at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, City College of New York, and the State University of New York.
“When I left school, less than one-half of one percent of all the engineers in the country was African American,” Dr. DeLoatch told USBE Online in July 2016.
“It was an area where we had little knowledge of, and participation in when I graduated with my first engineering degree. It had nothing to do with capability but the way engineering grew.
“I had an opportunity to expose others to something of value,” Dr. DeLoatch said.
Making Morgan Engineers
Morgan State’s School of Engineering admitted its first class in 1984, and the first graduates received degrees in 1988. Ten years later, a 40,000 sq. ft. building was added to the engineering school. The facility provided more classrooms, research laboratories, a student lounge, and a 2,200 sq. ft. library annex.
The School of Engineering now has departments with programs in civil engineering, electrical and computer engineering, industrial and systems engineering, and transportation and urban infrastructure studies. The school also offers graduate programs that confer the Master of Engineering degree, Doctor of Engineering degree, and Master of Transportation degree.
The engineering school graduates more than two-thirds of the state of Maryland’s black civil engineers, sixty percent of the African-American electrical engineers, 80 percent of the black telecom specialists, more than one-third of the black mathematicians, and all of Maryland’s industrial engineers.
“I can’t think of a better thing I could have done from the time I started as an instructor in engineering at Howard University,” Dr. DeLoatch said. “It couldn’t have been a better thing to do because it did start my professional career,” he said.
“It was about wanting to expose as many young people to a field little known, as I see it, in the African-American community—a very critical field for the progress of this nation. I have no regrets taking the route of higher education and engineering as a public matter and doing it in an environment where I could impact the thought processes and the decisions to become an engineer in the historically Black colleges and universities in our country,” he said.
“There are lots of other things I could have done or ended up doing. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t know what it would turn out to be, but I don’t think I would have got this kind of impact,” he said.
Maintaining America’s Leadership in Engineering and Technology
As an active member of the American Society for Engineering Education, Dr. DeLoatch was elected to the position of vice president for public affairs (1998–2000), chaired the society’s Projects Board, and was a member of its Public Policy Committee. Additionally, he was a member of the Editorial Board of ASEE’s Journal of Engineering Education, was past chair of its College Industry Partnership Division, and was chair of that division’s Peer Review Committee.
Dean DeLoatch is a past president of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). At the time of his election to the presidency of ASEE in 2002, he became the first African-American to hold that position in its history. Among his many past assignments were his tenures on the National Research Council’s Board of Engineering Education and membership on the Technical Advisory Board of the Whirlpool Corporation.
He serves as longstanding chairman of the Council of Deans of Engineering of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
One of Dr. DeLoatch’s primary concerns is that the United States maintains its global leadership in engineering and technology, which is manifested in his dedication to seeking the best-prepared persons to commit to careers in engineering and science. Dr. DeLoatch has spent much of his professional life in addressing this issue.
One day at lunch with USBE magazine publisher Tyrone Taborn in 1984, he shared his concern to get more minorities and women interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and his idea for addressing the need. As a result, the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference was launched in 1986, with Morgan State University as its sponsor.
Since its inception in 1984, Morgan State University’s Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering has earned an outstanding reputation for excellence in the preparation of undergraduate and graduate students.
“Morgan is among the nation’s top producers of black engineers, and that is due largely because of one man: Eugene Deloatch,” said Dr. David Wilson, the 12th president of Morgan State University.
“His record of success nationally in increasing diversity in the field of engineering is a matter of great pride for him personally and for Morgan State University. We join with many hundreds of his former students whose lives he has touched over the years to express our gratitude for his dedication and service,” Dr. Wilson said.
How One Man Created More Black Engineers Than Anyone in History
Darryl A. Stokes
Vice President – Electric Transmission & Substations
“I knew of Dean DeLoatch early on in my engineering career since he was making a significant and positive impact in the African-American engineering community. I finally had an opportunity to meet Dean DeLoatch in the mid-90s during a ‘Company Engineering Recruitment Meeting’ at Morgan, and I was very impressed with his exceptional level of commitment and passion for not only his school and kids but for the HBCU engineering community. Through my involvement with AMIE (Advancing Minorities in Engineering), I had exceptional opportunities to work with Dean Deloatch. He truly inspired me and my colleagues by promoting the critical role we played in enhancing the STEM pipeline with exceptional talent; developing his fellow HBCU engineering deans, staff, and students to exceed upcoming challenges; and providing much needed historical perspective, as well as competitive advantage, on HBCUs production of STEM talent for our academic, governmental, and corporate communities. I will truly miss his inspirational speeches, where he conveyed his passion for engineering excellence and his strong desire to provide these exceptional opportunities to others.”
Project Management Professional
Lockheed Martin Corporation
“I was a math major with the initial intent to become a teacher. After going to a school, I changed my mind and decided engineering was my best option. I first met Dr. DeLoatch during Introduction to Engineering; he spoke to the class. He was intimidating at first. He said, ‘Look to your left; look to your right. One of you may not be a Morgan Engineer. Which one do you want to be?’
“He cared about all his students. He would stop by classes, lab, and library just to say hi. He was the heartbeat of the School of Engineering. He helped me with the support of engineering student organizations and let me participate in his Engineering Advisory Board as a student rep. This is actually how I got my job offer for Lockheed Martin. By sitting on the board with the dean and industry, I was able to network and land an interview. When I look at where I am today, it is because of Dean DeLoatch and the education I received at Morgan State University. He taught us to become independent thinkers and problem solvers, which laid the foundation for us to take whatever career path we chose.”
H. Keith Moo-Young, Ph.D.
Chancellor, Washington State University Tri-Cities
“I first met Dean DeLoatch when I was a high school senior. I was with my godmother, Joyce Clark, who was counseling me on college attendance. In the spring of 1987, I was invited to the open house. My mother and I visited him in his office. My first impression was of a well-dressed, tall man who was full of enthusiasm for engineering. He believed he was going to change the world by producing more Black engineers with the new school of engineering. As a freshman, he taught our Introduction to Engineering class. He was always around and available to students and faculty. Little did I know that his real job was creating opportunities for students to go to work or graduate school and raising money from corporate donors or the government. Dean DeLoatch has always been a mentor and an inspiration. He was the voice for blacks in engineering during the 1970s, ’80, ’90s when the playing field was coming out of a post-civil rights era. His longevity has shown that persistence and perseverance can transform the culture of a community such as engineering. To serve as the president of ASEE is probably one of his accomplishments that show his influence on engineering education. I worked for the dean, and he was an inspiration. Dean DeLoatch lights up any room with his presence and smile, whether he is with colleagues, students, CEOs, or friends. He has a magnanimous personality, which transcends race, culture, gender, or age.”
Dr. DeLoatch Says
“Over the last 50 years certainly, and over the last 30 years, and my time as a dean, the field has had such a tremendous impact on the lives of people around the world. Look at the feats of engineering. Look at transport—the ability to get from one place to another quickly. The movement to personalizing devices and communication from the time we were able to have personal access to computers—and that’s only in the 1980s. Move back to the advent of computers to today’s personal, carry around smartphones that have more power than some of the things we had access to in the late 1970s. That’s a relatively short period of time, 30 years and 25 years. So when you look at that, from Morse code and the telegraph to now, that movement is telling me that the next 25 to 50 years will be wow!
“We’re already talking about the use of people in things we had people doing before. The factory worker is almost a thing of the past. What will we do with this whole business of artificial intelligence (AI) and drone-type, robotic-type of things as we are moving toward driverless vehicles? I tell you, the next 25 to 50 years are going to be amazing!”
4 Tips for the Road Ahead
1. People will have to be more globally in tune.
We’ll have to understand and appreciate not just our similarities but also our differences. If we don’t do that, if we can’t accommodate each other, then it’s going to be very challenging.
2. We’ll have to morph.
We’ll have to be more like engineers in our thinking—have more abilities, more languages, and more knowledge of other cultures. I see engineering as a merging together and more balancing of the cultures.
3. We’ll go extraterrestrial.
We’ll have to expand to other habitats. This planet will not be able to hold us as we’ve come to know this planet. I see space travel very strong in 50 years.
It’s trying to look back and go forward—find ways to grow, expand, and communicate in the universe—because we cannot have a lack of appreciation for the rights of others.
4. We’re going to have to coexist.
With man—coexist with the environment, and societies are going to have to be network-focused systems. Instead of growing apart, come together. Between technology and all this knowledge of things we were talking about, nations rising and people, how do we cope with all that as a world? I think the United States and engineers will take a greater role and more people will trend in the direction of the knowledge base and artificial intelligence we have created to minimize attacks but maximize the best of how we project forward if we are to survive. Education will be more personalized, and people will be able to access the knowledge base much more, not just in university.
Dr. Eugene M. DeLoatch retired as dean of the School of Engineering in July 2016 after 32 years at the helm.