Gary S. May

Georgia Institute of Technology | Atlanta, GA | 2012

Gary S. May Portrait Photo

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. Awardees may choose to provide their latest biographical information on their profile page.

Dr. Gary S. May is recognized as a Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring for his achievements in promoting the success of students from underrepresented groups in science and engineering through more than two decades of recruiting and mentoring at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Since arriving at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1991, Dr. May recognized that although Georgia Tech was graduating large numbers of African Americans, too few undergraduates participated in research or considered graduate school, and a very small number of those who received doctorates returned to academia. He set out to change that pattern.

In 1992 Dr. May initiated the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering/Science (SURE) program to provide underrepresented minority students with practical research experience and encourage them to pursue graduate education. The success of the program is evidenced by the fact that nearly 75 percent of past participants are either enrolled in graduate school, plan to attend graduate school within two years or have completed a graduate degree.

Key elements of the SURE program include:
• Ten weeks of challenging research projects
• Pairing each student with a faculty advisor and a graduate student mentor • A weekly seminar on emerging research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
• A stipend competitive with industrial internships
• Opportunities to visit industrial research sites

In 1998, Dr. May and colleagues received an Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Science (FACES) program, a joint effort between the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. Over the decade-long duration of the program, a total of 337 underrepresented students have received Ph.D. degrees in science or engineering, the greatest number in such fields in the nation.

On the national level, Dr. May has served for more than two decades on the governing board of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the participation of African-Americans in engineering and the physical sciences.

During his tenure as NSBE National Chairperson (1987-89), he helped NSBE establish a permanent national headquarters, publish its first Annual Report, establish its Pre-College Initiative program, develop a Strategic Plan, and establish the NSBE Alumni Extension and Board of Corporate Affiliates. During his long association with the organization, Dr. May has mentored literally hundreds of NSBE members and leaders.

Dr. May has served on the NSF Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (which he chaired from 2000-2001) and the congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology (CAWMSET, 2000). He received the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Mentor Award in 2007. More than 25 of his more than 200 research publications focus on the minority engineering educational effort.