A noted academic and administrator, George Edward Alcorn, Jr. is a noted pioneer in the field of semiconductor devices and one of the top inventors in the field of aerospace. Born March 22, 1940 in Indianapolis, Indiana, George was the son of Arletta and George Alcorn, Sr., an auto mechanic. Both parents promoted the virtu of education to George, Jr. and his younger brother Charles.
George was an excellent student in high school and entered Occidental College in Los Angeles, California on an academic scholarship. He was a remarkable athlete and received varsity letters in baseball and football. He also graduated with honors with a degree in physics in 1962 and followed this by enrolling in the Nuclear Physics program at Howard University. He completed his Master’s work in 1963.
He obtained work during the summers of 1962 and 1963 at North American Rockwell, a leading aerospace company. He worked in the company’s the space division and was assigned to perform computer analysis on the orbital mechanics and launch trajectories for rockets and missiles. Some of his work involved the Titan and Saturn rockets from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Apollo space missions and well as the NOVA missile.
In 1964, Alcorn applied for a research grant from NASA to study the concept of negative ion formation. He was awarded the grant and conducted his research from 1965 to 1967. At the same time, he was enrolled in the Physics program at Howard University and received a PhD in Atomic and Molecular physics in 1967.