Black History Month: Frederick McKinley Jones (1893-1961) and Arlyne Simon, Ph.D. (Currently Innovating)

Friday, February 19, 2021

This week for Black History Month we recognize two pioneering engineers and entrepreneurs, one who used his talents and vision for transformative change and another who appears destined to do the same.

Frederick McKinley Jones (1893-1961)

Frederick McKinley Jones, a World War I veteran, was a self-taught engineer best known for inventing a refrigeration system that allowed trucks to transport perishable products over long distances. Jones co-founded the Thermo King refrigeration company that extended his refrigeration system to trains, boats and ships, enabling consumers around the world to enjoy fresh foods year-round. During World War II, Jones also developed refrigeration units that enabled the military to preserve blood, food, and medicine. Throughout his career, Jones received more than 60 patents. His many inventions included a device that combined moving pictures with sound, improvements to sound equipment for the film industry, and an automatic ticket-dispensing machine to be used at movie theaters that he later sold to RCA. In 1991, President George G. W. Bush posthumously awarded Jones the National Medal of Technology, the first African American to receive the honor. In 2007, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Arlyne Simon Ph.D. (Currently Innovating)

Arlyne Simon is a Ph.D Biomedical Engineer from the University of Michigan, as well as an author, inventor and entrepreneur. In 2012, she invented a blood test that detects when cancer patients reject a bone marrow transplant. See arlynesimon.com. Dr. Simon also holds two patents relating to chemical solutions for analyzing genes, and currently works for a tech company designing medical imaging equipment. Driven to motivate girls to pursue careers in STEM, Dr. Simon has written a children’s book series entitled Abby Invents that introduces children to the invention process. This month, the USPTO is profiling Dr. Simon as part of its Journeys of Innovation series.