An Engineering Milestone For Morgan


April 03, 2005|By Emeri B. O'Brien | Emeri B. O'Brien,SUN STAFF

When students enter the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering at Morgan State University, they become part of a calculated mission.

Since the fall of 1984, the department has had one leader, and his vision has been clear.

"It has been our past tradition of providing access and opportunity for under-represented minorities," says Eugene DeLoatch, dean of the engineering department.

The engineering program at Morgan has made great strides in increasing the number of African-Americans in the field.

On April 9, the university will kick off a celebration that will run through December in honor of the program's success.

From humble beginnings came one of the nation's top producers of African-American engineers in the country, DeLoatch says.

The department only offered electrical-engineering courses during its first year; civil and industrial classes were added the next year. There were nine students in the first crop of engineering graduates.

The program now boasts 900 undergraduate and graduate students. The master's program was created in 1997, and the doctoral program was implemented a year later.

"We have a number of students who have [received] the doctorate degree in engineering," DeLoatch says. "Some are at MIT, Michigan and Stanford. We take a great deal of pride in that. Prior to our being here, some may not have had the opportunity to become an engineer."

Ron Marshall, 53, is a fifth-year civil-engineering doctoral student at Morgan who is working on his dissertation.

Marshall, who earned his undergraduate and master's degrees from Howard University, is a licensed engineer who has worked at Shell Oil Co. as a reservoir engineer. The single father says he found that Morgan State's program suited his scheduling needs.

The program features faculty members who have trained at institutions from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to the University of California, Berkeley. Some graduates have returned to their alma mater.

Alethea Pounds, an alumna now employed at the school of engineering, says, "The engineering faculty and staff take it upon themselves to shape and mold the students."

She adds, "The school of engineering is definitely a family because it is a rigorous program. They are preparing us for our careers for aiding our development of people."

Pounds graduated from the school of engineering in 1996 with a degree in industrial engineering. She specialized in robotics and animation. As an undergraduate, she interned at NASA in Greenbelt and at Frito-Lay in Texas.

"The school of engineering was and is committed to producing technological leaders who are committed to excellence," she says.

That commitment has paid off big for the university. Morgan State leads the state in graduating African-American engineers.

"In a typical year, Morgan graduates more than two-thirds of the state's African-American civil engineers and 60 percent of their African-American electrical engineers," according to the engineering department's Web site.

Moving the number of graduates in Maryland who hail from the African-American community into the work force is very significant to Morgan State's mission, DeLoatch says.

"I simply think we will be a major force in terms of the next generation of [engineers] who will be working -- especially those in the state of Maryland," DeLoatch says. "I strongly feel we are a school to be reckoned with."

Anniversary Events

For a list of activities regarding the school of engineering's anniversary celebration, please visit: http: / /

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