Happy National Professional Engineers Day

A Professional Engineer (P.E.) license is a certification given to engineers after passing an examination provided by the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES). In order to obtain a P.E. license, engineers must meet NCEES requirements of passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. Engineers can have multiple P.E. licenses because they are provided individually by states. The first person to ever earn a P.E. license in the United States (U.S.) was Charles Bellamy on August 8th, 1907; now over 100 years later, we celebrate Professional Engineers Day around the world.

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022 will mark the seventh annual anniversary of Professional Engineers Day. The purpose of this holiday is to bring awareness to what engineers do, what it takes to be a P.E., and how they stay up-to-date with rapidly growing technologies. Thanks to the awareness this holiday offers, the U.S. has more than 800,000 engineers with P.E. licenses according to NCEES, and soon we will be able to proudly say the U.S. has more than 1,000,000 engineers with P.E. licenses.

Happy Professional Engineers Day!


 

African-American Pioneers in Engineering You Should Know About

February is African-American History Month. As such, it is the perfect opportunity to highlight the engineering achievements of African-Americans who, although they may have contended with racism, societal inequality, and discrimination, worked hard to overcome obstacles and accomplished great things in the field of engineering.

  1. Walter Brathwaite, an American engineer who was born in Jamaica, was hired by Boeing in 1966. As Senior Engineer, he led the team that invented CAD systems for designing commercial Boeing aircraft. Over the years, Brathwaite rose through the ranks, eventually becoming President of Boeing Africa. When he retired in 2003, he was the highest ranking African-American executive of the company.
  2. Howard P. Grant graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1948, making him the first African-American to graduate from the Berkeley College of Engineering. That same year, Grant also became the first known black member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He subsequently became the first African-American civil engineer for the City and County of San Francisco and the second African-American civil engineer to be licensed by California. He worked in the San Francisco water department until 1984, and also held the position of president and treasurer of the California Society of Professional Engineers.
  3. George Biddle Kelley graduated from Cornell University's College of Civil Engineering in 1908. He went on to become the first African-American engineer registered in the state of New York. He was hired by the New York Engineering Department, where he worked on the Barge Canal, a collection of state waterways, during the 1920s.
  4. Elijah McCoy was born in Canada in 1844 to runaway slaves who had escaped Kentucky thought the Underground Railroad. At the age of 15, he moved to Edinburgh, Scotland for an apprenticeship. There he became certified in mechanical engineering. Upon leaving Scotland, he moved to Michigan, where his family was now living. After being unable to find engineering work in Michigan because of his race, he found work as a fireman with the Michigan Central Railroad. Part of his duties included oiling the steam engine parts. Soon McCoy had invented an automatic engine lubricator, which meant that trains were no longer required to stop for lubrication. The lubrication could now occur while the train was moving. As news of the invention spread, many inventors attempted to create their own version of the automatic lubricator. However, it was soon discovered that McCoy’s invention was superior. It is said that railway engineers began requested “the real McCoy” lubricator. McCoy filed a total of almost 60 patents, including designs for an ironing board, a lawn sprinkler, and other machines.

 

Aeronautical Engineers Born in March

 

Kalpana Chawla                          Image Credit: NASA
Robert L. Curbeam, Jr.                  Image Credit: NASA
Michael Fincke                                Image Credit: NASA

 

March is overflowing with birthdays of engineers who made history in the United States, and we want to highlight the achievements of these inspiring engineers:

Kalpana Chawla was born March 17, 1962 in Karnal, India. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in India, and later on moved to the United States to continue her education and received a Master’s degree in aerospace engineering. After being naturalized in the United States, she became an astronaut, engineer, and the first woman of Indian descent to go to space. Chawla lost her life during the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, but her legacy continues to live on through her work. Her research helped other astronauts understand health and safety during spaceflight. She continues to be an inspiration for many immigrants who are chasing the American dream.

Robert Lee Curbeam, Jr. was born March 5, 1962. He is an African-American astronaut, engineer, military officer, and aircraft pilot. Curbeam was a Captain in the United States Navy, and during his Naval career he was deployed to many locales including the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. After completing his term, he returned as an instructor for the Weapons and Systems Engineering Department. During his NASA career, Curbeam broke the record for the astronaut with the most space walks on a single flight.

Michael Fincke was born March 14, 1967. He is an astronaut, engineer, and military officer. Fincke was a member of the United States Air Force stationed at the Air Force Base in Los Angeles, California. While in the Air Force Space and Missiles Systems Center Department, he worked as a space system and space test engineer, working on many flight test programs and holding a colonel rank. During his NASA career, Fincke held many titles, such as Mission Specialist, International Space Station Spacecraft Communicator, and Flight Engineer. During one of his missions, he broke the American record for the most time spent in space.