Percy A. Pierre is Vice President Emeritus and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan State University. He created and directs the Sloan Engineering Program which recruits, helps fund, and mentors domestic engineering doctoral students, with an emphasis on underrepresented groups. Since 1998, he has personally mentored 45 engineering doctoral graduates, including 36 underrepresented minority doctoral graduates.
He earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at The Johns Hopkins University. He is recognized as the first African American to earn a doctorate in electrical engineering (http://blacksuccessfoundation.org/first_science_phd's.htm). He subsequently 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 he 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 as deputy to the Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs from 1969-70; as Dean of the College of Engineering at Howard University in Washington, DC from 1971-77 where he introduced masterís degree programs in urban systems engineering and computer science and doctoral programs in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering; as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research, Development and Acquisition from 1977-81 where he managed $12B annually of Army R&D and procurement, including the completion of the development and initial production of the Abrams tank in 1979, the Patriot Missile System in 1980, the Apache Helicopter in 1980; as Acting Secretary of the Army in January 1981; as President of Prairie View A&M University from 1983-89; and as Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State University from 1990-95 where he helped increase the acquisition of federal support for research and education by 30% above inflation to $106 million in FY 95.
Dr. Pierre was a principal architect of the national minority engineering effort. He co-chaired the 1973 National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Symposium, which officially launched the effort. He worked with 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 minority engineering organizations, including NACME, GEM, MESA, DAPCEP, and SECME. The minority engineering effort is arguably the most successful college level minority education program in the last 40 years. From 1973 to 2007, the number of B.S. degrees in engineering earned by minorities increased six and a half fold. Since 1973, there has been a ten-fold increase in the number of minorities earning masterís degrees and doctoral degrees in engineering.
The minority engineering effort is arguably the most successful college level minority education program in the last 40 years. In 1973, the number of B.S. degrees in engineering earned by minorities was 1,414. In 2007, the number was 6.5 times greater or 9,246. Over that same time period, minority education advanced in all areas, but not as fast as in engineering. The number of bachelorís degrees awarded to minorities in all fields was 89,076 in 1977 and 255,147 in 2006, an increase of 2.8 times greater. Advances have also occurred at the graduate level in engineering. Since 1973, there has been a ten-fold increase in the number of minorities earning masterís degrees and doctoral degrees in engineering.
Dr. Pierre has served on the governing boards of 12 non-profit educational and/or research and development organizations. He has served on 10 national scientific and technical advisory boards for private organizations and government agencies.
His awards and honors include membership in the National Academy of Engineering; the 2008 Lifetime Mentors Award of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Founderís Award, a recognition at the 30th anniversary of NACME as its principle founder; Recognized as a principal founder of GEM in 2011; Superior Public Service Award, US Navy, 1993; Regents Visiting Professor, University of California at Berkeley, 1990; Honorary Doctoral Degree, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1984; Distinguished Service Medal, US Army, 1981; Honorary Doctoral Degree, The University of Notre Dame, 1977; White House Fellowship, President's Commission on White House Fellowships, The White House, 1969.
He is a trustee emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, a director of the White House Fellows Foundation and Association, a member of the National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSPUP) and a director of TracLabs Inc.