For Mechanical Engineering Pioneer, Success Runs in the Family
Dr. Alicia Jillian Hardy
Congratulations to Alicia Jillian Hardy who, in September of 2007, became the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). Her doctoral research was focused in part of developing new, more fuel-efficient forms of internal combustion. She is currently putting her knowledge in this field to use in a 6 – month internship at BMW’s Munich research facility.
An academic standout in high school, where she won awards in math and science, Hardy was accepted at all 14 of the colleges and universities she applied to. On her brother’s advice, she chose M.I.T., but — ironically enough — not for its programs in the sciences. She entered M.I.T. with every intention of focusing on the humanities, and during her first year of college she fell in love with the Institute’s writing program. During her sophomore year, however, she decided to opt for engineering’s more clearly defined path to employment.
As an undergraduate, Hardy took advantage of a broad range of opportunities, both inside and out of the classroom. She was a teaching assistant for the multivariable calculus course and a member of the women’s crew. When graduation finally arrived, though, Hardy did not enter the workforce, opting instead for M.I.T.’s graduate program in engineering. She earned her master’s in 2004 and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering this past fall. When she returns from Munich, Dr. Hardy will begin a full-time position at General Electric where she will be working on biofuel technology.
Although she recently became the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from M.I.T., Dr. Alicia Jillian Hardy is not the first in her family to earn a doctorate, nor even the first in her family to complete a Ph.D. in engineering. Her mother holds a doctorate in education and her brother, Cordell, holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering.
Posted by Ajuan Mance