Joseph Douglas


Joseph Douglas
Joseph Douglas
Death date
Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching


Joseph Douglas was born on 31 October 1926 in Indianapolis, Indiana. His mother, a teacher, influenced Douglas' respect for education. After graduating from Crispus Attucks High School, Douglas went on to Purdue University to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. Douglas volunteered for the Air Force and was trained in the final class of the Tuskegee Airmen. Dismissed by the Air Force as World War II ended, Douglas returned to Purdue to complete his studies. Upon graduation he moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the Rural Electrification Administration of the Department of Agriculture. Douglas was hired just as U.S. President Harry Truman's executive order integrated the civil service, and he faced racial discrimination while conducting his engineering field work. After several years with the REA, Douglas took a teaching position at Southern University in Baton Rouge, where helped found the electrical engineering department, and simultaneously earned his Master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri. Douglas and his family relocated to York, Pennsylvania to work at American Machine & Foundry, in response to increases in racial violence in the 1950s South. Douglas became the first African American professor of engineering at Penn State University. Later he served as associate dean of Penn State’s Commonwealth campuses. Douglas received multiple awards from from Penn State and the Pennsylvania State Board of Higher Education for the excellence of his teaching. Douglas' IEEE service includes work as chapter chairman and as Region 2 Director (1985-1986). Douglas has also performed community service as teacher of after-school mathematics and engineering programs.

Douglas was the recipient of the 1972 Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and was a Life Senior member of IEEE. Douglas died on January 20, 2019.

Further Reading

Joseph Douglas oral history