Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lonnie G. Johnson, Inventor

"Lonnie G. Johnson, inventor and engineer, was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1949.  Mr. Johnson holds over 80 patents, with many still pending, and worked on the Galileo, Mars Observer, and Cassini Missions, but he is best known as the inventor of the Super Soaker.
"Lonnie attended W. H. Council Elementary School and Williamson High School in Mobile, Alabama.  At the age of 18, as a senior in high school, he won first place in a national science competition at the University of Alabama for his invention of a remote controlled robot, called 'Linex,' which he made from junkyard scraps.

"He attended Tuskegee University on a mathematics scholarship and was elected to the Pi Tau Sigma National Engineering Honor Society. He graduated with distinction with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1973, and completed a Master of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering two years later. In 2001, Lonnie was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Science from Tuskegee University, and currently serves on the faculty as an adjunct professor.

"As a Captain in the Air Force, he was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal, and received the Air Force Commendation Medal on two separate occasions. During his Air Force career he received the CINC SAC Nomination for Astronaut Training as a space shuttle mission specialist.

"He served as Chief, Data Management Branch of the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, Strategic Air Command, Edwards AFB, California. He also served as Manager, Advanced Space Systems Requirements for Strategic Air Command (SAC) Headquarters, Offutt AFB, Nebraska; and as Acting Chief, Space Nuclear Power Safety Section of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, Kirkland AFB, New Mexico.

"During his nine year career with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, he received multiple achievement awards from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for his work on spacecraft system design. He worked on the Galileo and Mars Observer projects, and was instrumental in the Cassini (Saturn) Mission.

"In 1992, Lonnie’s invention, the Super Soaker® water gun, generated over $200 million in retail sales. Total retail sales to date are close to one billion dollars. In 2000, Lonnie was named to the Inventor Hall of Fame for his invention of the Super Soaker®.

"Also in 1992, the Cobb County, Georgia Chamber of Commerce named Johnson Research and Development the 'Small Business of the Year.'

"Articles on Lonnie Johnson have been featured in a number of publications including Inventor’s Digest, the New York Times, and Time Magazine. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and was featured in a Science Times/National Geographic television segment.

"Lonnie Johnson currently holds over 80 patents and has over 20 more pending. He has authored six technical publications. Additional patents are held by his companies, Johnson Research and Development, Excellatron Solid State, and Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems.

"Johnson serves on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Alliance for Children and the Hank Aaron 'Chasing the Dream' Foundation; and has served on the Board of the Commonwealth National Bank."

You can find out more about Lonnie Johnson in the library's "Leading Alabama" display on the first floor in front of the Circulation Desk. 

Text from the Johnson Research and Development profile.

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