Charles Smoot is a native of Anniston, Alabama and a 1952 graduate of Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama. Smoot came to Huntsville in 1963 when his wife took a position teaching mathematics at Alabama A&M University. Smoot was employed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center where he began laying the foundation of a cooperative program targeting qualified African American students from universities across the nation.
In the fall of 1963, Smoot helped establish a program between Marshall and Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana which at the time was one of only six Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States with accredited engineering departments. From 1963 forward, Smoot continued to travel to schools across the country from Michigan to Puerto Rico recruiting students in the fields of engineering, physics, and mathematics. Over his many years, Smoot established key contacts with professors, students, advisors, department heads, and placement directors that held the door open for African Americas to gain access to jobs that had previously remained out of reach in the South.
Image Credit: NASA/MSFC