Public Release: 

2008 AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award goes to Percy A. Pierre of Michigan State University

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Percy A. Pierre, vice president and professor emeritus of electrical & computer engineering at Michigan State University in East Lansing has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his extraordinary dedication to increasing the number of African-American and Hispanic-American Ph.D.s in engineering.

Pierre will receive the 2008 AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement during a 14 February ceremony at the 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago.

He earned his doctoral degree in electrical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University, and his master's and undergraduate degrees from the University of Notre Dame, where he remains a trustee. He is recognized as the first African American to earn a doctorate in electrical engineering.

In addition to launching the first doctoral programs in electrical and mechanical engineering at Howard University, Pierre's many accomplishments have included playing a key role in establishing the National Action Council for Minority Engineers, or NACME. Through the Sloan Engineering Program at Michigan State, he has mentored 27 African American and Hispanic doctoral graduates in engineering.

Satish Udpa, professor and dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan State, said that he knows of "no one who is more deserving of the AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award than Professor Percy A. Pierre."

After completing his degrees, Pierre published research on stochastic processes in communications systems. His work focused on characterizing non-Gaussian random processes, including commonly used "linear processes." Results in signal detection, central limit theorems, sample function properties, and conditions for stochastic independence were developed.

In 1969, Pierre began a series of administrative posts in government and higher education. He was selected and served as a White House Fellow in the Office of the President from 1969 through 1970; as dean of the College of Engineering at Howard University in Washington, D.C. from 1971 until 1977; as assistant secretary of the Army for research, development and acquisition from 1977 to 1981; as president of Prairie View Agricultural & Mechanical University from 1983 to 1989; and as vice president for research and graduate studies at Michigan State University from 1990 until 1995. Pierre has also served, and continues to serve, on many governing and advisory boards in the areas of research and development and education.

He was a principal architect of the national minority engineering effort. He co-chaired the 1973 National Academy of Engineering (NAE) symposium, which officially launched that effort. He worked with the NAE to implement the recommendations of the symposium, including serving as chair of the NAE Committee on Minority Engineering. In a parallel effort, he served as the program officer at the Alfred P Sloan Foundation for minority engineering. He helped organize and provided initial funding for an array of minority engineering organizations.

Pierre's awards and honors include the Founder's Award, a recognition bestowed at the 30th anniversary of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering as its principle founder; the Superior Public Service Award of the U.S. Navy (1993); service as Regents Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (1990); an honorary doctoral degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1984); the Distinguished Service Medal of the U.S. Army (1981); an honorary doctoral degree from The University of Notre Dame (1977); and a White House Fellowship with the President's Commission on White House Fellowships (1969).

Pierre is active as a consultant and board member in the areas of management and education. He is a trustee of the University of Notre Dame; a director of CMS Energy Inc.; a director of the White House Fellows Foundation and Association; and a director of TRACLabs Inc.

Established by the AAAS Board of Directors in 1991, the AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement recognizes individuals who have, for more than 25 years, mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students toward the completion of doctoral studies and/or significantly affected the climate of a department, college or institution, or field in such a manner as to significantly increase the diversity of students pursuing and completing doctorates in the sciences. Also considered are nominees' demonstrated scholarship, activism and community building. The award includes a monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, and complimentary registration for the AAAS Annual Meeting.

The AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award will be presented at the 175th AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, which will take place 12-16 February 2009. The awards ceremony and reception will be held at The Fairmont Chicago on Saturday, 14 February at 5:00 p.m.


CONTACTS: Dr. Pierre can be reached at (517) 432-5148, or For general information on the AAAS Awards ceremony or other background, Communications Officer Molly McElroy of AAAS can be reached at (202) 326-6434, or

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