Dexter Johnson

Chief of the Structural Dynamics Branch, NASA Glenn Research Center

Dexter Johnson is an engineer, educator, entrepreneur, minister, and musician. He is currently employed at the NASA Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio, as the Chief of the Structural Dynamics Branch, and has worked there for over 24 years.

Dexter has previously served as an Aerospace Research Engineer in the Structural Dynamics and Aeroelasticity Branch, the Acting Branch Chief of the Controls and Dynamics Technology Branch, and the Acting Deputy Chief of the Life Prediction Branch. He also worked at Cleveland State University as a part-time faculty member in the Mechanical Engineering Department.

He graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a Bachelors Degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1987, and a Masters and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Mechanical Engineering, in 1989 and 1995, respectively. He is also pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the Cleveland State University College of Business.

His current engineering interests involve overseeing Structural Dynamics personnel, projects, and resources focused on Aerospace Structural Systems research and engineering associated with Spacecraft and Aircraft Hardware Design, Development, and Testing.

In 1998, Dexter was one of six individuals selected nationwide to participate in the prestigious NASA Administrator‘s Fellowship Program. During his two-year tenure in the program, he was a visiting professor at the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering, worked at NASA Headquarters in the Office of Aero-Space Technology Programs Division, and was a visiting researcher at Pratt & Whitney in E. Hartford, Connecticut, Veridian Engineering in Buffalo New York, and Moog Inc. in East Aurora, New York.

Also, in 1998, Dexter received the esteemed “NASA Honor Award -- Exceptional Service Medal” for “the successful development of power-saving magnetic bearing controls for magnetic suspension systems, the development of a magnetic suspension and excitation system for the Dynamic Spin Rig, and contributions to the NASA Administrator’s Fellowship Program.” In 2003, he won the Structures Division Mentor of the Year Award at NASA Glenn. In 2003, he won the National Technical Association Technical Achiever of the Year - Technologist Category Award. In 2006, he won the Science Spectrum Magazine Trailblazer Award. The Science Spectrum Trailblazers are outstanding Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, and Black professionals in the science arena whose leadership and innovative thinking on the job and in the community extend throughout and beyond their industry. In 2006, he was selected as a University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences 60 years of Excellence - Distinguished Alumni. In 2008, he won the NASA Honor Award - Group Achievement Award for contributing to the design and development of the NASA Ares I-X Upper Stage Simulator. The Ares I-X  was the first demonstration flight test of NASA’s new launch vehicle, and was launched in October 2009.  In 2010, he received the Celestial Torch Award – Aerospace Pioneer of the Year from the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Aerospace Systems Conference. 

He currently serves on the Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council at UB.  He recently was awarded the 2012 UB Alumni Association Achievement Awards – Clifford C. Furnas Memorial Award and the 2012 City Honors High School Alumni Award. Dexter served on the Board of Directors of the NTA as the National Treasurer from 2002 through 2004. He is also an active member of the NSBE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). His NSBE involvement spans 30 years inclusive of membership, student leadership, professional leadership, mentorship, and corporate recruitment.  He was a founding member of the UB chapter.  His involvement in the Buffalo-area Engineering Awareness Program (BEAM), at UB, as a junior in high school led him to pursue a career in engineering.  He has the distinction of being the first BEAM student to graduate with an engineering PhD from the University at Buffalo.