Mr. Lonnie Johnson
President and founder of Johnson Research and Development Co., Inc., a technology development company, and its spin-off companies, Excellatron Solid State, LLC; Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems, LLC; and Johnson Real Estate Investments, LLC. He worked as a research engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and then joined the U. S. Air Force, serving as Acting Chief of the Space Nuclear Power Safety Section at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. He later became a Senior Systems Engineer at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where he worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter.
After returning to the Air Force he served as an Advanced Space Systems Requirements Officer at Strategic Air Command (SAC) headquarters and as Chief of the Data Management Branch, SAC Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base. He was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal on two occasions. He returned to the JPL and worked on the Mars Observer project during the the Cassini (Saturn) project.
Johnson formed his own engineering firm and licensed his most famous invention, the Super Soaker® water gun, to Larami Corporation. The Super Soaker® generated over $200 million in retail sales and became the number one selling toy in America. Larami Corporation was purchased by Hasbro Corporation and Super Soaker® sales have totaled close to one billion dollars. Johnson holds over 80 patents, with over 20 more pending, and is the author of several publications on spacecraft power systems. Johnson holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering, an M.S. degree in Nuclear Engineering, and an honorary Ph.D. in Science from Tuskegee University.