Lonnie Johnson was born October 6, 1949. He is an African American inventor who has 80 patents. One of his best-known inventions is the Super Soaker. The Super Soaker has ranked among the top 20 in toy sales since it came to the market.
When he was a child he tore his sister’s doll up trying to see what made the eyes move. He burned his house down trying to make rocket fuel and made a go-kart using an old lawnmower engine and scraps of metal. He was inspired by George Washington Carver and he represented Williamson High School in Mobile Alabama in the Alabama State Science fair. He was the only black student in that science fair during a time when African Americans didn’t have much of a presence in science. He created a robot he named “Linex”, which was a compressed-air powered robot and took home first prize.
Johnson then went on to attend college at Tuskegee University on a math scholarship. When he finished, he earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Tuskegee University. When he graduated from college he joined the United States Air Force where he worked on the stealth bomber program. He later worked at NASA in the Jet Propulsion Lab. Johnson currently has two technology-development companies: Excellatron Solid State, LLC and Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems (JEMS). They both currently operate in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta.
Mr. Lonnie Johnson is an inspiration to any student interested in the field of science. He turned a childhood interest into a career.