February 9, 2021

Black History Month and Digital Intelligence

Every year, the Black History Month is an opportunity to honor the past and current contributions in all the sectors of society! IVADO and OBVIA wanted to highlight some inspiring profiles who have contributed throughout history to various fields related to digital intelligence. Click here to view the poster!

Let’s start with three emblematic figures in mathematics, a cornerstone in the field of digital intelligence!

  • Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr. (1923 – 2011) started his Ph.D. at age 13 and finished it at age 19! He was the President of the American Nuclear Society and a Professor at Harvard.
  • Evelyn Boyd Granville (1924 – ) is the second African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. She worked on the Mercury and Vanguard projects.
  • Gladys Mae West (1930 – ) is an American mathematician known for her contributions to satellite positioning systems.

Let’s now take a look at three famous profiles in technology :

  • Dr. Philip Emeagwali (1954 – ) is a Nigerian computer scientist, known as the “Bill Gates” of Africa. At the age of 14, he could already handle 100 math problems per hour! He invented the fastest computer in 1989, which did 3.1 billion calculations per second…
  • Mark Dean (1957 – ) was the first African-American to receive the IBM Honorary Fellowship.
  • John Henry Thompson (1959 – ) is the inventor of the Lingo programming language and developed Flash and Shockwave software. He also participated in the creation of MediaMaker.

Let’s take a little “altitude” with these four famous NASA women!

  • Dorothy Vaughan (1910 – 2008) was NASA’s first African-American supervisor.
  • Katherine Johnson (1918 – 2020), hired as a “human computer” at NASA, worked on calculations for the Apollo mission.
  • Mary Jackson (1921-2005), also hired as a “human computer,” was NASA’s first African-American woman engineer. She was Director of the federal program The Office of Equal Opportunity.
  • Mae C. Jemison (1956 – ) is a brilliant American engineer, physician, professor and NASA astronaut!

Many other black people have and continue to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in STEM! Valuing diversity is an important part of the initiatives of our two organizations, which are committed to promoting diversity in order to develop a more ethical, fair, inclusive and equitable digital intelligence.

Learn more about our initiatives and take action at your level:




To talk more about equity, diversity and inclusion in digital intelligence:

Contact Mariloue Daudier, EDI Advisor at IVADO at mariloue.daudier@ivado.ca and
Laetitia Dupouy at OBVIA at edi@observatoire-ia.ulaval.ca



IVADO is the fruit of an initiative of HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal and Université de Montréal. With the support of its ecosystem linking the academic, industrial and institutional sectors, IVADO develops leading-edge expertise in the various fields of digital intelligence (including data science, artificial intelligence and operations research) and helps transform novel scientific discoveries into concrete applications, economic opportunities and benefits for society. For more information: ivado.ca


OBVIA is an open research network and a space for discussion and reflection for all stakeholders in the development and use of AI and digital technologies. Through critical questioning of technological innovations, OBVIA aims to raise critical issues and identify concrete solutions to the problems and opportunities posed by developments in AI and digital technologies.