Eugene M. DeLoatch: Black Engineering Leader
Eugene DeLoatch became an engineer when there was not a lot of diversity in engineering. He went on to shape and lead the most successful black engineering program of all time at Morgan State University.
Eugene M. DeLoatch is a full professor and Dean Emeritus of the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering at Morgan State University. He is a renowned engineer and educator who has dedicated his life to advancing engineering education and increasing diversity in the field. Over his career, he has taught more African-American engineers than anyone else.
Eugene M. DeLoatch. Image used courtesy of AMIE
Introduction to Engineering
DeLoatch was born in Piermont, New York, in 1936. As a high school sophomore, his French teacher found a magazine article describing the lack of black representation in engineering. This prompted his teacher to ask DeLoatch if he had considered becoming an engineer, which he said wasn’t something he knew much about then.
Yet this conversation led him to attend Tougaloo College, a historically black college outside of Jackson, Mississippi, where he earned dual degrees in math and electrical engineering from Tougaloo and Lafayette College. His first teaching role was at the City College of New York.
While working on his Master’s degree in electrical engineering and Ph.D. in Bioengineering at Polytechnic Institute University, he joined the faculty at Howard University. He worked at Howard on and off for years as a Professor of Engineering before becoming the Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering in 1975 until he left to work for Morgan State University in 1984.
Shaping an Engineering Program
When DeLoatch arrived at Morgan State University in 1984, he was tasked with leading a new engineering school with inadequate funding and numerous challenges. Most notably, the new engineering facility was built without classrooms, and there was a widespread belief that black students were not prepared to succeed in a rigorous engineering program.
Despite this, he set about recruiting top-notch faculty members and establishing initiatives to support student success, such as a pre-college summer transition program and specialized courses teaching introductory subjects innovatively.
DeLoatch’s leadership and efforts quickly paid off; by 1991, Morgan State had awarded 76% more degrees to African-Americans than the entire state of Maryland had in 1981. The school became a national leader in the number of engineering degrees awarded to African-Americans and produced highly successful graduates. DeLoatch’s work at Morgan demonstrated that it was possible to graduate significant numbers of black engineers at all degree levels with the right strategies.
Engineering Leader and Visionary
DeLoatch’s greatest legacy is his contribution to increasing diversity within engineering education, having awarded various degrees in engineering to over 2,300 African-American students.
In 2002, DeLoatch became the first African-American to serve as President of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), a prestigious engineering education organization founded in 1893. Before becoming President, he served as Chairman of the ASEE Projects Board, as a member of the ASEE Public Policy Committee, on the Editorial Board for ASEE’s Journal of Engineering Education, as Chairman Emeritus of the ASEE College Industry Partnership Division, and as Chairman Emeritus of the Peer Review Committee. He is a life member and fellow of ASEE.
DeLoatch has received numerous accolades throughout his career in recognition of his longstanding commitment to education and contribution to the lives of many black engineers. His most cherished include the 2017 Black Engineer of the Year Award, which he helped create, the 2016 Tau Beta Pi Distinguished Alumnus Award, the 2015 AMIE Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2014 ABET Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity.
He retired from Morgan State in 2016. In 2017, he was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.
DeLoatch has been a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in engineering education and has worked to create programs and initiatives to support students from underrepresented groups. Through his work at Howard University, the American Society of Engineering Education, and Morgan State University, he has left a lasting impact on the engineering field and has inspired countless students to pursue careers in engineering.