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Great Engineers & Scientists

In 1676, Sir Isaac Newton wrote "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants." In this blog, we take Newton's words to heart, and recognize the many great engineers and scientists upon whose shoulders we stand.

So who do you think of when you hear "Great Engineer"? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add him or her to the pantheon. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

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Thomas Jennings

Posted February 02, 2010 8:57 AM by nsbe

Thomas Jennings is known for being the first African American to receive a patent. Jennings received the patent for the "dry scouring" dry cleaning process in 1821. Granting Jennings to the rights of his invention was a milestone for black inventors. Between the late 1700s and the 1800s the U.S. patent laws changed several times between giving African Americans, free or slave, rights to their inventions. Early on slaves were granted the rights to their inventions, but later on it was determined slaves could not have the rights to their inventions because they were not citizens. These laws changed back and forth until 1870 when the U.S. passed a patent law allowing all American men the rights to their own inventions.

Living during a time when slavery still existed, Jennings used parts of his income from his dry cleaning business in New York to help the abolitionist movement. When Jennings received his patent, he used the money to pay for his family's freedom from slavery. Ten years after receiving his patent, he became the assistant secretary for the First Annual Convention of the People of Color in Philadelphia, PA. Thomas Jennings opened the door for African American inventors and for the freedom of African Americans who's ancestors were brought to America from Africa.

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The mission of NSBE is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.

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Join Date: Feb 2009
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Re: Thomas Jennings

02/03/2010 11:20 AM
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