Professor Yvonne Young Clark Passed Away at 89
Yvonne Young Clark ("YY"), an ASI Fellow, who served on the faculty at Tennessee State University in Nashville for 55 years, died in her sleep on January 27. She was 89 years old.
Professor Clark was a native of Houston but grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. She graduated from high school at age 16 and went on to become the first woman to earn a degree in mechanical engineering at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Later, she was the first African American woman to earn a master’s degree in engineering management from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Ms. Clark helped to start Tennessee State's chapter of Pi Tau Sigma, a mechanical engineering society. In 1956, Professor Clark joined the faculty at what was then Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State University in Nashville. She was the first woman faculty member in the mechanical engineering department. She rose through the ranks to associate professor and served as the chair of the department of mechanical engineering at what is now Tennessee State University for two terms for a total of 11 years. Clark retired as a professor emerita in 2011 after serving on the faculty for 55 years.
Clark spent many summers at Frankfort Arsenal doing research on recoilless weapons. She also spent a summer working with NASA in Huntsville, Alabama where she investigated Saturn V engines for hot spots. She then spent a summer at the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston working on containers to return moon samples to Earth. Clark did further research that discovered methods for revitalizing and modernizing part of the inner city through the Westinghouse's Defense and Space Center in Baltimore, Maryland. As of the 1990s, her research focuses on refrigerants. She is the main investigator for the research project "Experimental Evaluation of the Performance of Alternative Refrigerants in Heat Pump Cycles" funded by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Clark is the student division team leader for the NASA funded project at TSU called the Center for Automated Space Science.