Embarking on a journey through the realm of Lonnie Johnson Education unveils a captivating narrative of inspiration.
Lonnie Johnson is an American inventor, engineer, and entrepreneur who is best known for creating the Super Soaker water gun, one of the world’s bestselling toys.
However, his achievements go beyond toys and span across various fields of science and technology.
How did he acquire the skills and knowledge that enabled him to become such a successful innovator?
In this article, we will explore Lonnie Johnson education and how it shaped his career and inventions.
Early Interest in Science and Engineering
Lonnie Johnson was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1949.
His father was a World War II veteran who worked as a civilian driver at a local Air Force base, and his mother was a homemaker who sometimes worked as a nurse’s aide or a laundry worker.
Johnson grew up in a large family of musicians and learned to play the violin from his father.
However, he also had a keen interest in science and engineering from an early age.
He liked to tinker with things and experiment with different materials and devices.
He once tore up his sister’s baby doll to see what made her eyes close, and he also tried to cook up rocket fuel in a saucepan but almost burned down the house.
Johnson was inspired by George Washington Carver, an African American scientist and inventor who was born into slavery but became a renowned botanist and educator.
Johnson read books about Carver’s life and achievements and decided to follow his footsteps.
He also faced racial discrimination and segregation in his hometown, which motivated him to prove himself through his academic performance.
High School Science Fair Success
Johnson attended Williamson High School, an all-black school in Mobile.
There, he excelled in math and science and participated in various extracurricular activities, such as the math club, the chess club, and the science club.
He also built his own radio station and broadcasted music to his neighborhood.
In 1968, Johnson represented his high school at a regional science fair in Alabama, where he was the only black student attending.
He presented a robot he created, which he named “Linex”.
The robot was powered by compressed air and could move forward, backward, and sideways.
It also had sensors that could detect light and sound.
Johnson won the first-place prize at the science fair, which earned him a scholarship to attend Tuskegee University.
College Degrees in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering
Johnson enrolled at Tuskegee University in 1969, where he majored in mechanical engineering.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1973.
Lonnie then continued his studies at Tuskegee University and obtained a Master of Science degree in nuclear engineering in 1976.
He also holds an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Tuskegee University.
During his college years, Johnson developed his skills and knowledge in various aspects of engineering, such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, materials science, reactor design, and radiation protection.
He also conducted research on alternative energy sources, such as solar power and hydrogen fuel cells.
Career as an Inventor and Engineer
After graduating from college, Johnson worked for the U.S. Air Force as a research engineer.
He was assigned to the Strategic Air Command, where he helped develop the stealth bomber program.
He also invented a digital thermocouple sensor that could measure the temperature of nuclear reactors.
In 1979, Johnson joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an aerospace engineer.
He worked on several projects related to space exploration, such as developing the nuclear power source for the Galileo mission to Jupiter, designing the Mariner Mark II spacecraft series for the Comet Rendezvous and Saturn Orbiter Probe missions, and testing the heat shield for the Mars Observer spacecraft.
In 1989, Johnson invented the Super Soaker water gun while experimenting with a heat pump that used water instead of Freon.
He patented his invention and licensed it to Larami Corporation, which later became part of Hasbro.
The Super Soaker became one of the most popular toys in history, selling over 250 million units worldwide.
In 1991, Johnson founded his own company, Johnson Research and Development Co., Inc., where he continues to invent and develop new products and technologies.
Some of his inventions include:
- The Johnson Thermo-Electrochemical Converter System (JTEC), which converts heat into electricity using hydrogen gas.
- The Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems (JEMS), which uses piezoelectric materials to harvest energy from mechanical vibrations.
- The Excellatron Solid State Battery Technology (ESSBT), which uses thin-film technology to create high-performance batteries.
- The NERF dart guns, which are foam-based toy weapons that shoot soft projectiles.
Johnson has over 100 patents to his name and has received numerous awards and honors for his inventions and contributions to science and engineering.
He is also involved in various educational initiatives that aim to inspire young people to pursue careers in STEM fields.