STEM Pioneers

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons


Legacy STEM Pioneers – Norbert Rillieux

An engineer and inventor, Norbert Rillieux was born in 1806 New Orleans. His father, Vincent, was also an inventor and, upon discovering his son’s interest in the field, sent the child to study in France, according to the American Chemical Society. Rillieux’s multiple effect evaporator revolutionized the sugar industry through a process that could “…harness the energy of vapors rising from the boiling sugar cane syrup and pass those vapors through several chambers, leaving in the end sugar crystals.” He returned to the United States to promote and sell his incredibly innovative machine to the nation’s sugar plantation owners. Though Rilleux was free and one of the most intelligent minds of the time, he was still subjected to the South’s prevalent racism. As tensions that eventually resulted in the Civil War escalated, Rilleaux returned to France, where he spent his remaining years. Teach students about Norbert Rilleaux’s multiple effect evaporator.

Today’s STEM Leaders – LaDoris Harris

Currently holding the position of Director to the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), LaDoris Harris pursued her B.S., Electrical Engineering degree at the University of South Carolina and an M.S., Technology from Southern Polytechnic State University. Harris  was the first African-American woman to hold an officer position at ABB, Inc., as Vice President of Operations & Production. As Co-founder, President, and CEO of Jabo Industries, an engineering management consulting firm, Harris worked with clients in energy, information technology, logistics, and healthcare. In addition to her bachelor and master’s degrees, Harris was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Chicago State University and Clark Atlanta University. Learn about LaDoris Harris’ thoughts regarding STEM education.