Engineering Icon, Alum Eugene DeLoatch, Honored for Diversifying the Field

A Towering Figure in the World of Higher Education Wins Black Engineer of the Year Award

Eugene DeLoatch

Alum, Eugene DeLoatch. Photo courtesy of Morgan State University

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering has been justifiably praised for its initiatives to increase participation by underrepresented groups in the engineering disciplines, but what you might not know is that it has had a hand in creating more black engineers than almost any other institution in the country — at least indirectly. That’s because Tandon has the honor of being the alma mater of Dr. Eugene DeLoatch (’67, ’72), the Founding Dean of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering at Maryland’s Morgan State University.

At a time when engineering was not even on the radar of most black students, Morgan State’s engineering school was born, and it accepted its first class in 1984. Now, according to recent reports, Morgan grads comprise more than two-thirds of the state of Maryland's black civil engineers, 60 percent of its black electrical engineers, 80 percent of black telecom specialists, more than one-third of the black mathematicians, and fully 100 percent of Maryland's industrial engineers. Deloatch — who attended Tandon (then known as the Polytechnic University of Brooklyn) back when less than one-half of one percent of all the engineers in the country were black — is universally credited for that progress.

DeLoatch — who became the first black president in the history of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) upon his election in 2002 — was recently named Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA), an annual award that he had a role in launching more than three decades ago. One day in 1984, while lunching with magazine publisher Tyrone Taborn, he had shared his thoughts about increasing minority participation in the STEM fields, and as a result, Taborn, who helms US Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine, inaugurated the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference, sponsored in part by Morgan State University.

“After I earned my degrees I knew there were many other young African-Americans who could do the same, and I knew I wanted to help make that happen.”
— Dr. Eugene DeLoatch 

“Being named BEYA is a well-deserved honor, indicative of Dr. DeLoatch’s remarkable work and dedication,” Dean Katepalli Sreenivasan asserts. “We are proud to call him one of our own and to know that his degrees have served him well throughout his career.”

Despite winning that prestigious honor,
DeLoatch — who also chaired the department of electrical engineering at Howard University from 1975 to 1984 and is a longstanding chairman of the Council of Deans of Engineering of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities — is unassuming about his role in changing the course of engineering education. “I grew up as one of 10 siblings, and while it was difficult to afford tuition, our parents always stressed to us that education could be a liberating force in what was still a repressive era,” he says. “After I earned my degrees I knew there were many other young African-Americans who could do the same, and I knew I wanted to help make that happen.”

He takes a long view on the issues involved. “You have to see things from a historical perspective,” he explains. “When I attended what I still fondly think of as Poly, I was the only black graduate student in my department. The numbers have improved greatly, but engineering education still has a long way to go. All of us need to keep working to make an even greater impact.”