Lonnie Johnson Jr. Quotes

  1. I don’t think there’s any project that I started that I ever stopped working on.
  2. Peer review is fine, as long as you’re making incremental improvements to a technology.
  3. As an inventor, it’s a rite of passage to have an engine. I’d like to have my own engine someday.
  4. I am a nuclear engineer. I’m working on advanced energy technology. I have a new type of the engine that converts heat into electricity, and I’ve also developed a new type of battery that’s all ceramic, without liquid electrolyte.
  5. The invention that most people know me for is the Super Soaker water gun. I knew the gun worked well, and I knew it would be successful. I did not realize how successful it would be.
  6. I think America’s strength is in innovation.
  7. In 1975, I was called to active duty in the Air Force, studying U.S. space launches that used nuclear power. I felt it was a big deal to be involved in such an important project — we were providing technical support for launch recommendations that ultimately went to the president.
  8. You sometimes have a very innovative company, and if they come up with one idea, they can come up with many more — if they’re successful. If they can’t feed themselves, you lose that creativity.
  9. Sitting still, a person produces about 100 watts of heat. What if you could use that to charge your cell phone?
  10. I didn’t want to grow old and find that I didn’t do what I could have done, that I didn’t put my best foot forward. I didn’t want to have any regrets.
  11. I was working on a heat pump that used water as a working fluid, and I made some jet pumps for it. I accidentally shot a stream of water across a bathroom where I was doing the experiment and thought to myself, ‘this would make a great gun.’
  12. Most of my career as an engineer, I was put in environments where I was the only person of color in the room.
  13. That’s one of the advantages of being an inventor and tinkerer — I have everything I need to make what I need.
  14. Especially when you have a lot of technology you’re developing as a small company, trying to protect that technology is a real problem.
  15. I consider myself a general practitioner. I do electronic things. I do toys and water things, mechanical stuff. I’m very, very flexible.
  16. Lady Luck is indifferent. She smiles sometimes, and she frowns sometimes.
  17. I can remember times when we’d be having parties, and people would be dancing and everything and I would be sitting there in the middle doing calculus, just doing my little thing.
  18. There are maybe three inventions I have that I rank as my top inventions that I’m most proud of. The robot I built in high school, the memory-protected circuitry for the Galileo and the Super Soaker.
  19. I have never really understood why in this country so many people look down on black people.
  20. I would say that engineering has been a very positive experience overall, but usually coming into the situation it would be one of being underestimated. People would actually have low expectations. But I would take advantage of it quite honestly, because I would take my time to underestimate the situation.



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