Sunday, March 8, 2015

HISTORY HIGHLIGHT: Dr. Henry Sampson, A Living Legacy was the First African American to Receive a Degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University in 1956

In addition to his work in engineering fields, Sampson is a writer, film historian, and documentary film producer who focuses on the African American presence in the film and entertainment industries. He has written five books about the portrayal of African Americans in movies, cartoons, and on radio.


Henry Sampson, BSChE ’56

Henry Sampson was raised in Jackson, Mississippi, where his parents instilled in him the love of learning. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, before transferring to Purdue University. While a Purdue student, he was a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Sampson earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Purdue in 1956. He worked as a research chemical engineer at the U.S. Naval Weapons Center in China Lake, California, in the area of high energy solid propellants and case bonding materials for solid rocket motors. He earned his master’s degree and PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in 1965 and 1967, respectively.

Sampson then moved to the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California, where he served as the director of mission development and operations of the space test program. He led senior engineering staff in the planning, acquisition, development, launching, and space operation of several satellites. He was one of the earliest engineers to examine how to power satellites. Sampson has written a number of papers on rocket propulsion, direct conversion of nuclear energy to electricity, and computer simulation of electrical systems. He pioneered a study of internal ballistics of solid rocket motors using high-speed photography. He has written several technical papers and has been granted patents. In 1971, he coin vented the gamma-electric cell that made it possible to send and receive audio signals via radio waves without wires. 

During the AIChE Centennial Meeting held in Philadelphia in November 2008, Dr. Sampson was honored among the “Twenty Chemical Engineers in Other Pursuits.” Sampson is the recipient of a variety of awards including the Atomic Energy Commission Award (1964-1967), Black Image Award from Aerospace Corporation (1982), Blacks in Engineering, Applied Science and Education Award and Los Angeles Council of Black Professional Engineers (1983), and was named a fellow in the U.S. Navy (1962-1964).

In addition to his work in engineering fields, Sampson is a writer, film historian, and documentary film producer who focuses on the African American presence in the film and entertainment industries. He has written five books about the portrayal of African Americans in movies, cartoons, and on radio. Sampson is married to Laura Howzell Young-Sampson, a professor at California State University-San Bernardino. Together, they are working on a biography of Sampson’s mother.

*Originally Posted May 23rd, 2013*


No comments:

Post a Comment