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Dexter Johnson, PhD '95, MS '89 & BS '87

Clifford C. Furnas Memorial Award

By Barbara A. Byers

Release Date: March 20, 2012

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Dexter Johnson

Since 1990 Dexter Johnson has served as chief of the Structural Systems Dynamics Branch for the NASA Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio, where his work is focused on launch vehicle and spacecraft dynamic environments applicable to spaceflight hardware design, development and testing. Previously he was involved in the development and application of magnetic suspension technology to advanced aerospace turbomachinery. He is the inventor of the adaptive variable bias control method for power-saving operation of active magnetic suspension systems.

Johnson's success in life began early. In high school he became involved in the Buffalo-area Engineering Awareness Program (BEAM) at UB, which inspired him to pursue a career in engineering. He has the distinction of being the first BEAM student to graduate with an engineering PhD from UB. In addition, he was a founding member of the UB chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, an organization for which he remains extensively involved to this day. In 2010 the NSBE presented him with the Celestial Torch Award -- Aerospace Pioneer of the Year during its Aerospace Systems Conference.

In 1998, Johnson was one of six individuals selected nationwide to participate in the prestigious NASA Administrator's Fellowship Program, in which he was a visiting professor at the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering.

In addition to his work with the NSBE, Johnson has been involved with a variety of other professional organizations, including serving as national treasurer and a member of the board of directors of the National Technical Association (NTA) and a member of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In addition, he is a member of the Engineering Dean's Advisory Council for his alma mater.

He has won numerous awards for his service and contributions to the industry, including the esteemed NASA Honor Award -- Exceptional Service Medal, the Technical Achiever of the Year -- Technologist Category Award from the NTA, and the Trailblazer Award from Science Spectrum Magazine. Johnson was also selected as a UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences 60 years of Excellence -- Distinguished Alumni and has received the NASA Honor Award -- Group Achievement Award.