Suggested Searches

2 min read

Remembering Samuel J. Scott, One of NASA’s First Black Engineers

Samuel J. Scott
Remembering Samuel J. Scott, one of NASA's first black engineers

The NASA family is saddened by the passing of Samuel J. Scott, one of the agency’s first black engineers. He died Friday, March 5, 2021, after a short illness.

Scott got his start at NASA’s Langley Research Center and worked with the likes of Kathryn Johnson and Mary W. Jackson, luminaries known through the book and movie Hidden Figures. According to his obituary on WAVY TV, he was one of the first four black engineers hired at Langley. He applied and was hired in 1962 soon after graduating from University of Pittsburgh’s aeronautical engineering program. Based on his qualifications, he was hired sight unseen. Upon arriving at Langley: “One of the guys in the branch said ‘I didn’t know he was Black,'” said Scott, with roaring laughter in an interview from February 2021. Like his more famous counterparts, his engineering skills also were instrumental in landing humanity on the Moon.

Later in his career, he served as member of The National Technical Association (NTA), the oldest African American technical organization in the United States founded in 1925. Throughout his career, especially his work with NTA, he worked to advance STEM education and fight for opportunities for African Americans in technical fields.

In this image from 1974, Scott is pictured at his desk in the Office of Director for Structures.

View the Samuel J. Scott image gallery.

Image Credit: NASA