L-R: President Nelson Mandela, Dr. Bettye Walker, President, A-MAN, Inc., Prof. Hal Walker, Chairman.
As the world honors President Nelson Mandela, Professor Hildreth “Hal” Walker, Jr. and Dr. Bettye D.Walker, founders of A-MAN, Inc. a STEM International Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics education/mentoring agency based in Los Angeles, CA (USA). continue the promise to educate South African students.
In 1994, CA State Senator Diane Watson invited Professor Walker, a retired aerospace engineer from the Howard Hughes Aircraft Company, and wife Dr. Bettye a retired professor and public school administrator, to visit South Africa as part of a Los Angeles delegation. About 30 professionals traveled to determine the needs of the new South Africa and how to assist its people. Hal and Bettye were encouraged by what they saw and continually returned to South Africa to explore ways to utilize their expertise. While visiting the ANC Headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa in 1997, Hal and Bettye brought a group of 12 students, girls and boys, on a Study Tour along with their parents from Los Angeles. The students, 8 to13 years of age, were introduced to President Mandela. President Mandela was so impressed with these students that he delayed his next appointment. “He engaged them about their educational interest and their preparation for the future, says Hal Many of the students spoke about space technology and their ambitions in life. He then asked Prof. Hal and Dr. Bettye if they would “Promise” to come back and promote the AMAN, Inc. STEM program in South Africa for the 1998 year of “Science and technology”. President Mandela then posed for a picture with the Hal and Bettye and parents. Also, Vice President Thabo Mbeki met with the group. “We said yes, how could we refuse Nelson Mandela,” says Hal. Now for over 20 years Hal and Bettye commute to and from South Africa, “Keeping The Promise.”
Professor Walker was involved in many US National Technology laser projects. The most famous and historical is the 1969 NASA/ Apollo 11 first manned moon landing where he was responsible for the operations of the Lunar Laser Ranging System. This experiment represents the first Successful Interplanetary Laser Ranging Experiment in History over a round trip distance of nearly 500 Thousand Miles. Hal’s laser Ranging Experiment was recognized recognized in 1994 in a permanent exhibit “Science in American Life” at the National Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History.
The A-MAN, Inc. Science and Technology program was established in 1986 in Carson, CA as a research grant funded by UCLA and directed by Dr. Bettye Walker. The very successful project was created to study the educational decline of Inner City students and develop advanced models to improve their educational interest and performance. Science and technology was chosen as the student’s motivational tool starting from 5-18 years of age. Over 10,000 A-MAN, Inc. students have graduated from Universities and Colleges in the US.
Along with partner Rotary International, initially Hal and Bettye worked at the Sammy Marks Farm school. This project culminated in a new law that electrified all farm schools across SA. Today A-MAN is affiliated with over 20 sites in South Africa. These schools are located in the Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town areas. A-MAN SA is a Section 21 Association based in Cape Town. Across South Africa thousands of students have benefited from new computer literacy labs, technology learning sessions and motivational talks given by Prof Hal and Dr. Bettye.
Hal says that it was President Mandela’s vision to bring South Africa’s education system into the 21st century using new learning methods. There was an educational gap in the country. He saw those A-MAN youngsters, as a model of what can be done with the youth of South Africa to build the next technological generation of South Africans.
Some of “The Promise” success examples have been: A-MAN SA had its first Ph.D. student graduate in computer science and in 2004 a 14 year old girl student from Fezeka High School in Gugulethu travelled to America and participated in a historical Jr. Astronaut JPL/NASA MARS Rover program. While there at NASA she actually pushed buttons that moved the MARS Rover on the planet surface. She is now a University of the Western Cape Honours graduate in Geology.
In addition, Prof Walker was instrumental in founding and chartering the Cape Town-Western Cape Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., the first on the African Continent. The question is “where do we go from here in South Africa,” says Hal. “We must make sure there are sustained STEM educational programs as well as develop technological based jobs in South Africa. Hal says we will continue the “Mandela’s Promise” through our Educational STEM models, Rotary International educational projects, Private sector partners and most importantly showcasing the AMAN SA students and their families.
Presently, Hal and Bettye along with local community organizations such as Rotary International and private sector company’s such as DONIX are training 4 high school girls and boys from Cape Town to attend the 31st Annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Los Angeles CA, USA in May 2018.these students attended the elementary school where Hal and Bettye partnered with Rotary International to establish a state of the art Computer Literacy Lab . These students have continued to have an interest in Science and Technology through the years of being prepared by Hal and Bettye at their primary and junior primary and now at the high school level. This South Africa STEM Student Achievers (SSA) the promiseTeam will lead and Exhibit during the Conference. This event will bring together leading space technologies professional managers, engineers, astronauts, scientists, STEM educators, the next generation of STEM students and business people from around the world. Students will participate in discussions, view exhibits on space settlements and hear about human space flight and future space developments. Tours are planned to facilities such as JPL/NASA, Space X and other technology Science Centers. On their return to SA the students will participate in lectures to other students and teachers at local school programs to motivate other students. They will also speak to Rotary Club meetings, and community groups to spread the wealth of knowledge that they have gained as well as their experiences. This preparation will enhance the future of South Africans in space development and space related business enterprises.
Dr. Bettye Davis Walker is a internationally renowned educational innovator, former University professor and researcher who has worked with students in Europe, West Africa and presently in South Africa.
Dr. Walker has been performing Mission work in South Africa since 1998 at the invitation of President Nelson Mandela when he met her and scientist husband, Hal. Dr. Walker initiated and conducted the "Homecoming for the Children" Study Tour to South Africa for 12 of her students ages 9-13. She and Hal started promoting science and technology in the township schools in Pretoria and Johannesburg and have been expanding in Cape Town since 2000. Dr. Walker is also a Rotarian who has represented the Inglewood Rotary Club in developing partnerships with Rotary Clubs in Cape Town and coordinated the establishment of a dozen state-of-the art Computer Literacy Labs in township schools in Cape Town and Pretoria. She conducts teacher training and implements Astronomy Clubs in government schools. As the co- Founder of A-MAN, Inc. in Los Angeles as well as having the A-MAN, Inc. South Africa non-profit established, she travels to South Africa annually and sends much needed school supplies. One of the high school young ladies, from a township, that Dr. Walker has mentored and trained to be selected to attend JPL/NASA graduated from the University of the Western Cape with honors and a major in Applied Geology. Dr. Walker is a former Assistant Professor at Howard University and visiting Professor at Dillon College,Montana, University of Arkansas and Cal Poly Pomona in California.
A-MAN, Inc. is an outgrowth of B- MAP, an educational research grant she developed and directed which was the first of its kind that was funded by UCLA while an elementary Principal in Carson,California.The B-MAP( Black Male Achievement Project) received national recognition.
The A-MAN, Inc. STEM International Science Center promotes hands on science activities and project development for girls and boys ages 5-18 as well as assists them to enter college and graduate. The A-MAN, Inc. Center has graduated over 10,000 students from Universities and Colleges in the US and abroad. Programs are scheduled after school, weekends and summer. The A-MAN, Inc. held its 25th Anniversary Tom Bradley Dinner which was a major milestone in 2016.
She received the International STEM Educator Award, 2014-15; Medal of Honor named for President Nelson Mandela, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2014;Women's International Award, 2013; Soroptimist Youth Science Community Service Award,2014; Mother of the Year Award, Belizean Community, 2013; Citizen of the Year Award, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, 2012 and a host of others for giving back and outstanding community service.
Dr.Walker is a board member of the Oasis Chapter of the National Space Society, Advisory board member of the International Society of Black Latinos, member of the International Committee of the Inglewood Rotary Club, Life time member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and Los Angeles Silhouettes, Holman Church Double Ring Club and Friday Morning Prayer Group.
Dr. Walker received her Bachelors' Degree in Education from the University of the District of Columbia while simultaneously completing a Major in Music from Howard University; Masters Degree from Chapman University and Doctorate Degree from Western Colorado University.
Walker led the manufacturing, testing and operation of the Korad K1500 ruby laser system during the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landings lunar laser ranging experiment. This historic first successful interplanetary lunar laser ranging experiment was replicated in 1n 1994 in a interactive exhibit located in the Hands on Science section of Science in American Life at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Mr. Walker himself was honored in the exhibit’s permanent section, “The New Moon.” Mr. Walker’s space technology involvements began in 1959 as a technical member of the RCA Corporation’s BMEWS (Ballistic Missile Early Warning System) situated in the Alaskan frontiers to detect Soviet Missile nuclear attacks.
This experience prepared him to expand his career into the laser technology industry in early 1964 at KORAD Laser Systems, a Division of the Union Carbide Corporation. As a laser systems specialist, Hal traveled throughout the United States and the world introducing advanced new laser technologies to the fields of scientific research and industrial applications. In 1974 Hal joined the Hughes Aircraft Company where he participated in developing and placing the first Tactical Laser Target Designator System into the U.S. Army inventory. Mr. Walker retired in 1989 from the management team of the Hughes Aircraft Company. He then served until 2010 as president and CEO of TECH PLUS, a laser technology consultant group. The group participated in national projects such as the Laser Induced Plasma Fusion at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Hal was appointed to be a JPL/NASA Solar System Ambassador in 2000. In this role he participates as a speaker and specialist in space-related technology issues. His responsibilities are promoting public education and development of local community awareness and benefits regarding space technology and deep space future exploration. He is a Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Educator Associate.
Walker is board chairman and co-founder, with his wife Dr. Bettye Walker, of the African-American Male Achievers Network, Inc. (A-MAN), a non-profit corporation. A-MAN is dedicated to the nurturing of young African-American and other minority students with particular emphasis in science and mathematics. Hal is a graduate of Pacific Christian College (Cum Laude) with a BS Degree, Business Technology Management.
Hal and Bettye have established the A-MAN, Inc., in South Africa at the invitation of President Nelson Mandela and implement science and technology programs in township schools across the country.
Affiliations: Life time member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc, Los Angeles, Alumni Chapter; Founding Polemarch Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Cape Town-Western Cape Alumni Chapter, Cape Town South Africa; Past Board Chairman, Walk to Emmaus Los Angeles Community. Member Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Boule; Delta Xi Chapter.
Founded in 1991 by international educator Dr. Bettye Davis Walker and aerospace pioneer/ engineer Prof. Hildreth “Hal” Walker, Jr., the African American Male Achievers Network (A-MAN) develops and implements prototype STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) intervention programs that address the underachievement of young African American and other minority students, with an emphasis on courses leading to careers in science, mathematics, engineering, and health. A-MAN’s National Spokesperson is NASA Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African-American to walk in space.
A-MAN, Inc. began as an outgrowth of a pilot educational research project funded by UCLA in 1986. Dr. Walker directed this project, the only one of its kind in the country, to address the underachievement of African American students at an early age, using science as a motivational tool.
The A-MAN International STEM Science Center provides unique STEM science- and mathbased after-school enrichment programs for at-risk students who attend public schools in South Central Los Angeles, Inglewood. A-MAN, Inc. programs supplement the science instruction provided in traditional classrooms and help reverse the declining achievement patterns of local public schools by working directly with a group of students who could benefit most from its programs.
In 1997, President Nelson Mandela asked Hal and Bettye to promise him that they would come back to South Africa and assist in preparing students for the New South Africa’s technological future. For more than 13 years the South Africa STARS of A-MAN international operations have been under development and implementation while serving thousands of students with advanced educational technology projects utilizing astronomy, Mars exploration and computer training. In 2004, one of the STARS students was selected in a world wide competition to participate at NASA/JPL in the Student Mars Red Rover Project in California.
To meet the critical growing local educational needs, the South Africa STEM Centre will launch a partnership that will focus and bring together collaborative visionaries including IEEE,additional business and technology volunteers and technology engineers and spokespersons.
The A-MAN SA Global access learning education program is a new 21st-century educational method which will be an innovative breakthrough for use across the world starting in 2019. It is based on K-12 blended Learning Modules developed and implemented over the past 25 years at the A-MAN, Inc. STEM Science Centre in Los Angeles and globally in South Africa. The Program utilizes Space Sciences and Technology and blended STEM methodologies.
To utilize STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) as a motivational tool and provide students with technological hands-on Science experiments and project development activities.
ONE: To motivate students using STEM activities.
TWO: To provide students with field trips and study tours in order to expose them to STEM careers.
THREE: To increase the number of students who will go into STEM careers.