Dr Andre D Cropper with his daughter Iala and his wife Natalie

Interviewer: Amar Maharaj

Back in the 1800’s, H.S. Cropper was a great inventor and Sheriff of Nottingham. Ironically, a hundred years later, another Cropper, Andre D. (A. D.), turns up at Fatima and launches out to become a world outstanding inventor!

D. Cropper followed Fatima with stints at Howard (Bachelor’s and Master’s) followed by Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Ph.D). Then his dizzying climb as expert and innovator, work in six countries with various technologies and industries; publishing technical papers, addressing professional conferences and securing patents. He has been recognized in T&T and the Caribbean and the US. In the positive sense of the expression, out of Fatima has come a Cropper.

In the positive sense of the expression, out of Fatima has come a Cropper.

Q: What year did you enter and leave Fatima College?

A: 1973-1978

Q: Can you write about your memories at Fatima – pleasant and/or non-pleasant?

A: I have fond memories of Fatima, the outstanding teachers, the well-kept grounds and the Fatima Crest of which I admired very much. I particularly enjoyed most of my classes, especially History, Math and Physics.

Q: After leaving Fatima, you attended University. Can you explain your choice of university and your area of study?

A: I choose Howard University because the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Eric Williams, had attended Howard and I believed it would offer me the greatest opportunity to prepare for a future in Academia in my native country Trinidad and Tobago (My original Career Goal).

I choose to study Electrical Engineering because of my Dad (Anthony Cropper), who inspired me by being a self-taught electrician, and my mom (Vilma Cropper) who was an Elementary School Principal and gave me the desire and drive to accomplish my dreams.

Also, I was always interested in math and physics from an early age and used to play around with electronic devices when I was young.

Q: Can you tell us about your journey after your studies?

A: After receiving my BS and MS in electrical engineering from Howard University, with a focus on semi-conductor materials I taught Engineering at Norfolk State University. There I learned about a scholarship for underrepresented minority students in the sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). I earned my PhD in electrical/materials engineering in three and one-half years.

With my PhD, I returned to Trinidad as a lecturer in the department of Electrical Engineering at the University of the West Indies (my lifelong dream).

A year later I received a call from Corning Incorporated, who had seen my resume at Virginia Tech and invited me to New York for an interview as a Project Engineer.

29 years later my experiences include: 20 years in industry; 17 years of academic involvement; 12 years of research; 10 years of non-profit Board experience; and 4 years of hands-on experience within Caribbean, Asia, Europe and Canada. Stationed on two continents and worked in six countries in telecommunication; flat panel displays; and aerospace/defense industries. Developed three major value-added technologies, published over 45 technical journal and Conference articles, created 10 industry technical publications and was granted 4 patents.

I am a Technical Subject Matter Expert for the Intelligence Community, an Innovator, and a collaborator with U. S. Government’s Defense & Intelligence Agencies on next Generation Disruptive Technologies.

In 2005 Trinidad and Tobago recognized Dr. Cropper with the “National ICONS in Science & Technology” Award and in 2006 the “Caribbean ICONS in Science Technology & Innovation” Award. Also in 2006 Rochester Museum and Science Center, in Rochester NY, honored Dr. Copper as one of the “Inventors – Who Makes Things Work in Rochester”.

Also in 2014 I was the recipient of the “Professional of the Year” Award for outstanding career achievements, from American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) and from Raytheon the “STAR Award” for outstanding Achievements within STEM Community in 2014, as well as, an “Inventor Award” in 2014 and 2015.

In 2015, I was inducted into the Fatima “Hall of Fame”

Q: What would you say has been the highest point of your life/career so far?

A: The highest point in my life was the birth of my daughter (Iala Cropper) in 2004.

My greatest career accomplishment includes my current role as Engineering Fellow for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems and my first Patent in 2003 for “A Method for Manufacturing an Integrated Display Device including an OLED Display and a Touch Screen”.

Q: What is your normal day like?

A: If I am in the Office:

  • Wake up at 4 am and head for the pool at 5 am for a workout
  • At the office by 7 am, reviewing/answering emails and outstanding action items for the previous day or update meetings with my team
  • From about 9 am I head into the lab for about 2 to 6 hrs to conduct research
  • Last few hours of the 9 hours day is spent with Briefings with Customers or Upper Management

I also travel at least 2 weeks per month and during these trips I spend 9 to 11 hours in customer business and technical meetings, then get on a plane and fly to the next customer and start all over again.

After dinner, I do a last minute review of emails and assign action items for the next day.

Q: With your current workload, what about family life?

A: Family is the ultimate life activity. I try very hard to balance my work/travel and family life, making changes to my schedule to attend important family activities.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?

A: Swimming and supporting my daughter in her swimming and taekwondo

Q: At Fatima what sport did you play and enjoyed the most?

A: Swimming

Q: What sports do you follow now and what are your favourite teams?

A: Actually I have found it difficult to follow traditional sports over the past 15 years. However, I do take time off to watch the Olympics every 4 years.

Q: At Fatima, who were your favourite teachers? Why?

A: Harry Ramdass because he believed that I would achieve my goals

Q: Did any teacher at Fatima stand out the most for you? What was that teacher’s impact on your school experience, life or your career?

A: Harry Ramdass because his belief in my strengths complemented those of my parents and gave me the confidence to work harder to achieve my goals.

Q: Did Fatima contribute towards making you the man that you are today? What is the most valuable lesson that you have learnt at Fatima?

A: Believe in yourself and leverage your strengths to achieve the confidence you need to accomplish your goals.

Q: What has been your most significant accomplishment to date? Are you currently working towards other goals at the moment?

A: Most significant accomplishments were the birth of my daughter, my US Patents, my Ph.D. and then the ICONS in Science Technology & Innovation

Current Goals are pursuing new Patents in the field of Hyperspectral Technologies

Q: What were your fondest memories? Strangest memories?

A: Fondest memory: Graduating. Strangest memory: Being hit by a stump in my forehead during a cricket match.

Q: How would you advise a young student at Fatima thinking about his future?

A: Follow your dream; Believe in yourself; Leverage your strengths and minimize your weakness; Failures are just opportunities to build confidence to accomplish your goals.

Q: What do you feel about how Fatima has progressed? Any words of advice about same?

A: Fatima is definitely a leader in academics and I am proud to be an alumnus

Q: As an alumnus of Fatima, what would you like to benefit from in products (e.g. memorabilia) or services from FOBA?

A: I would welcome the opportunity to mentor and/or speak to the students whenever I am in TnT and share my life story and experiences.

Q: Have you ever used the FOBA website (https://www.foba.fatima.edu.tt/) for purchases/obtaining information? What recommendations would you make to enhance your experience?

A: Not yet, but will try to in the future.

Q: In what way do you think you can assist FOBA in its mission?

A: Provide the tools and resources for the next generation to achieve their goals and be successful in any field they choose.

Q: Are you in touch with or meet other alumni on a regular basis? If yes, can you describe the value of that camaraderie to you? If no, would you like to? How would you like FOBA to help?

A: No but I would like to connect with some of my classmates.

Q: Fatima College and FOBA both benefit by your continued connection to your alma mater. Any closing words of wisdom? Remarks?

A: Parting Wisdom:

  • Add value”….always!;
  • Let “your core values” be your guide;
  • Walk your own road, follow your own path;
  • Satisfy a need, adapt but don’t assimilate;
  • Have and maintain passion always;
  • Build a culture of principles/performance;
  • Find a Mentor, Coach & Champion;
  • Create your life vision, mission & goals;
  • Always learn, learn, and learn more;
  • “No limits”, but work/life balance;
  • Expect rejection… opportunities to excel;
  • Know how you perform…. humor helps;
  • Manage yourself and your expectations;
  • Remember who you are and your heritage;
  • Find time to give back to your community.