Celebrating Howard P. Grant – A Trailblazer in Engineering and Mentorship


We are more than halfway through Black History Month and this week is National Engineers Week, so we would like to spotlight Howard P. Grant next, not only as the first African American graduate of UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering, but also as a beacon for education and breaking down barriers.

Born in 1925, Howard P. Grant navigated a world where opportunities for African Americans in higher education and professional spheres were severely limited. Despite these challenges, his determination and intellect shone brightly, and he became a man of many firsts.

After graduating in 1948, Grant’s career took a trajectory that was both impressive and impactful. He became the first African American member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and went on to become the first African American Civil Engineer to work for the City and County of San Francisco, working in the Water Department until 1984. He worked on projects including the San Francisco International Airport, the Hyde Street cable car turnaround, and the Hetch Hetchy reservoir (pictured here). Additionally, he was only the second African American civil engineer to be licensed in the State of California.

While his professional accomplishments as a civil engineer are well-documented, what we found so inspiring was his commitment to the professional development of young African American Engineers. From a meeting held at Mr. Grant’s home in 1970 grew the Northern California Council of Black Professional Engineers, whose mission is “promoting professional development, networking, education, and youth outreach in the fields of science and engineering.” He was viewed by the younger generation as a mentor and inspiration, and he earned this designation through his unwavering determination in the face of adversity.

As we celebrate Black History Month, it is crucial to acknowledge pioneers like Howard P. Grant not only for their breakthroughs in racial barriers but also for their roles in helping lift up the younger generations.