Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

For Mechanical Engineering Pioneer, Success Runs in the Family

January 16th, 2008 by Ajuan Mance
Dr. Alicia Jillian Hardy

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.

Sources: The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education and M.I.T. News

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in Alicia Jillian Hardy, Engineering, Higher Education, M.I.T., Women in Science

7 Responses

  1. Brian Hacock

    Hi Jillian,

    Long time no see, congratulations…


  2. Aamy Lee

    Above article is useful for mechanical engineering students who wants to study Ph.D.

  3. Ron Smith

    I am very proud that black woman has done MIT.

  4. Albert Bogdankevich

    Hi, Jilly! Very proud for you! Hello from Russia!!))

  5. Joseph Amankrah

    Congratulations Dr Alicia Hardy, From canada, I’m a technical officer in the department of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University in Toronto, I want to say how proud I feel to know that you had chosen the mechanical engineering field as a Black woman, I wish we could advise more of our young women to pursue mechanical engineering field.

    good Luck

  6. sadun

    Congratulation Dr Alicia.

  7. Joseph Anuge

    A very big congrats to you Dr Alicia… I am in my first year in Yaba Tech Lagos Nigeria studying mech Eng.I love the department and i will try as much as i can to be in this position one day ….. CONGRATS….