In honour of Black History Month we will be recognising notable contributions to the STEMs from people of African origin. Today we recognise Dr. Isaiah Blankson.
Born in Ghana and a product of Mfantsipim School, Dr. Blankson is a Senior NASA technologists renowned for his expertise in hypersonic and supersonic aerodynamics. Upon completing his Secondary Education in Ghana he migrated to America to complete his BSc, MS and PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics all at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His career begun at the General Electric (GE) Corporate Research Center before taking up a position at NASA. At NASA, he serves primarily as a Hypersonics Specialist on Air-breathing Hypersonic Technologies. Over his career he has served as Assistant Director at National Aerospace Plane Office, Deputy Director Hypersonics Research Division and Program Manager of a $28 million per year program. His research has principally been focused on advancing technologies for high-speed flight and he has contributed to multiple research publications within this field. His work has also contributed to the development of hypersonic flight guidance and control systems, developing a gas-dynamic design for high-power circuit breakers and the design of waverider cruise missiles.
Dr. Blankson has been the receipient of numerous awards including the Luis de Florez Award for excellence in engineering during his time at MIT. He was also recognised for his contributions by the NASA Exceptional Performance Award, received the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Senior Executive, Scientist of the Year (2005) and the Black Scientist of the Year Award (2006). His other achievements include serving as Chairman, External Advisory Council for Department of Aerospace Engineering at Pennsylvania State University, featuring on the cover of “Science Spectrum Magazine,” and holding two U.S. patents.
In addition to his Scientific excellence, Dr. Blankson is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and has served since 1998 as the U.S. National Delegate to the NATO Research and Technology Organization’s Working Group on Hypersonic Vehicle Technology. His work with Russian scientist has also given him a working knowledge of the language. In addition, he is involved in the continuous education of future leaders in science by contributing to the teaching at various universities, presenting at conferences and establishing research programs and curricula. In 2005, he was invited by the University of Science and Technology (Ghana) to participate in establishing a Department of Aeronautics at the school.