Henry T. Thomas Sampson, Jr. (born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1934) is an African-American inventor.
He graduated from high school in 1951 from Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi. He then attended Morehouse College for a couple of years before transferring to Purdue University where he became a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He received a Bachelor's degree in science from Purdue University in 1956. He graduated with an MS degree in engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1961. Sampson also received his MS in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1965, and his PhD in 1967.
He is the first African American to earn a Ph.D.in Nuclear Engineering in the United States. Some of his accomplishments include being a member of the United States Navy between the years 1962 and 1964 and earning an Atomic Energy Commission honor between 1964 and 1967. Later he was awarded the Black Image Award from Aerospace Corporation in 1982. He was awarded the Blacks in Engineering, Applied Science Award, and prize for education, by the Los Angeles Council of Black Professional Engineers in 1983. In June 2007, Sampson was married to Laura Howzell Young in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Young-Sampson is a professor in the College of Education at California State University San Bernardino.
Sampson was employed as a research chemical engineer at the U.S. Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, California, in the area of high energy solid propellants and case bonding materials for solid rocket motors. Sampson also served as the Director of Mission Development and Operations of the Space Test Program at the Aeropace Corporation in El Segundo, California. His patents included a binder system for propellants and explosives and a cse bonding system for cast composite propellants. Both inventions are related to solid rocket motors.
On July 6, 1971 he was awarded a patent, with George H. Miley, for a gamma-electrical cell, a device that produces a high voltage from radiation sources, primarily gamma radiation, with proposed goals of generating auxiliary power from the shielding of a nuclear reactor. Additionally, the patent cites the cell's function as a detector with self power and construction cost advantages over previous detectors.
Sampson is a writer and film historian. He wrote the book "Blacks in Black and White: A Source Book on Black Films," which examines often overlooked African American film makers and entertainers from the first half of the 20th Century. In addition he authored "The Ghost Walks: A Chronological History of Blacks in Show Business, 1865-1910." Sampson produces documentary films on African American film makers. In 2005 he published "Singin' on the Ether Waves: a Chronological History of African Americans in Radio and Television Programming, 1925-1955" (two vols, 1270 pages), Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland, and Oxford, UK, 2005.
Sampson is associated with the Board of Directors of Los Angeles Southwest College Foundation, as well as a technical consultant to the Historical Black Colleges and Universities Program.