Famous Black Engineers Throughout History

William Hunter Dammond
Drawings from Dammond's safety system for operating railroads. Dammond filed the patent on Feb. 17, 1905, and it was granted on June 19, 1906. Image courtesy U.S. Patent Office

Ready to meet another patent holder and pioneer? William Hunter Dammond was the first African-American graduate of the Western University of Pennsylvania (which later became the University of Pittsburgh). Dammond graduated with honors from the university in 1893, with a degree in civil engineering [source: Barksdale-Hall].

After assorted professional adventures, Dammond moved to Michigan to work as a bridge engineer. Once there, he hit his stride, inventing an electrical signaling system for railway engineers to recognize the approach of another train and receiving a patent for it [source: U.S. Patent 747,949]. In 1906, he was issued another patent for a "safety system" for railway operation [source: U.S. Patent 823,513].