October 3, 2011

James E. West to be honored in two-day symposium

A symposium in honor of James Edward West will be held this weekend on the Homewood campus in celebration of his 80th birthday and his contributions to science and to diversity.

West, a world-renowned African-American inventor and engineer, is a research professor of electrical and computer engineering and of mechanical engineering in Johns Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering.

He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the invention of the electret microphone, which now serves as the basis of 90 percent of the more than 2 billion microphones produced annually, including those in professional microphones, cell phones, hearing aids, baby monitors and video cameras. He holds more than 250 U.S. and foreign patents and is a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Engineering.

A zealous advocate for increasing diversity in the fields of science and technology, West was instrumental in the establishment of the Corporate Research Fellowship Program at Bell Laboratories. That program and the lab’s Graduate Research Program for Women have funded and graduated more than 400 PhDs over the past 40 years in a wide range of disciplines.

The symposium will bring together graduates of the two programs, their mentors, program managers and other feeder Bell Labs programs to present their recent research. In addition, several panels will gather representatives of agencies, industry and organizations with similar interests and efforts to promote diversity in STEM training.

The event, sponsored by the Whiting School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will be held in 210 Hodson Hall on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8 and 9. Ben Carson, director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, will be the speaker at Saturday’s dinner. The schedule is online at crfpetal.net.