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BY [Katherine BRINKLEY-BROOMFIELD]

Dr. Decatur Rogers, my college mentor, made me believe in myself and convinced me that I possessed the skills to succeed in engineering. Dr. Rogers really boosted my self-confidence and my preparations. - Kyra Massey Kennedy

Kyra Massey Kennedy has had a gift for engineering since her early days at FAMU High, now the FAMU Developmental Research School (DRS). “Since the eighth grade and at the age of 14, I knew mechanical engineering was the field for me to pursue. I loved to build things, take electronics apart, work with robots, and was totally fascinated with making things move and how V-8 engines worked,” she said. Beginning in the sixth grade, she won first place in the school science fair four times. By the time she reached her senior year in high school, she was offered a full $46,000 Life-Gets-Better Scholarship to enroll in Florida A&M University’s joint engineering program with Florida State University. “The Life-Gets-Better Scholarship was one of the top full-ride scholarships you could receive in the ’90s. This was a huge scholarship, including classes, room and board, stipend, books and school supplies,” Kennedy said. Although Kennedy ultimately switched her major to mathematics with a minor in mechanical engineering, she nonetheless credits FAMU for providing her with the skills she needed to pursue her love to build and create. In fact, FAMU’s Minority Introduction to Engineering Summer Program in the late ’80s would be the launching pad for her becoming a technology entrepreneur, an innovative patent holder and the recipient of the Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Honor awarded by President Barack Obama three decades later. “FAMU has impacted my success through its programs that introduced young students to the different fields of

engineering,” Kennedy said. She said that another important component of her success was the mentoring she received from one of her professors. “Dr. Decatur Rogers, my college mentor, made me believe in myself and convinced me that I possessed the skills to succeed in engineering,” she said. “Dr. Rogers really boosted my self-confidence and my preparation.” Her FAMU experience propelled her toward a plethora of opportunities, including a meeting with Westelle Florez. The representative from the company Diesel Recon made sure she joined the People to People International Program, allowing her the opportunity to visit more than six cities in Russia as a student ambassador. She also participated in several internships with Battelle Northwest Laboratories, General Motors, Mobil Oil Corp. and Ford Motor Co. By the time she graduated in 1998, Kennedy had job offers from HewlettPackard (HP), General Motors and AlliedSignal. She accepted a position at HP as a response center engineer. She also was featured in Fortune magazine’s July 1998 issue in an article titled “Talented African Americans are Being Groomed for Big Business at Florida A&M University,” as well as in New Republic magazine in the 1999 article “Top Students to Watch.” Today, Kennedy is the chief executive officer and founder of MasKenn Inc. (a conflation of her maiden name, Massey, and her married name, Kennedy), which provides state-of-the-art devices that leverage technology, communications and sensing alongside apps and a wide range of

support services. She provides the devices to the military and medical industries, among others. In 2016, she received a patent for a moisture detection device known as the Moisture Alert Pad (MAP). Using Wi-Fi technology, the MAP detects liquid substances and sends text, smart phone, Smart TV, email and phone messages to designated recipients. Users of the technology include private health care providers, doctors’ offices, nurses, homeowners, construction contractors and veterinarians. The idea for the moisture alert technology originated 10 years ago when Kennedy wished she could be notified when her infant son wet his bedding. Kennedy also has developed eDevices that send alerts and location information, and make phone calls to the programmed recipient. The eDevices include the ePad, ePillowcase, eVest and eMVest (Military Vest) technology. “I am working with business partners such as former NBA and NFL players and other investors to fund my patented devices. I’m really excited about working with the government to help enhance my company’s advanced technology devices, as well,” Kennedy said. Her advice to FAMU’s future engineers: “I know college can be hard and you may want to give up. I know a lot of students see people make it without a degree but, trust me, a degree matters,” she said. “A degree from FAMU shows a sense of responsibility and a level of educational achievement.”

A&M MAGAZINE // SUMMER 2017 // 41

Profile for FAMU Communications

Summer 2017 A&M Magazine  

Welcome to the summer edition of the award-winning A&M Magazine. This issue highlights alumni, students, faculty, staff, programs and partne...

Summer 2017 A&M Magazine  

Welcome to the summer edition of the award-winning A&M Magazine. This issue highlights alumni, students, faculty, staff, programs and partne...