Lonnie Johnson may be an unfamiliar name in the history books to some, but as an engineer and inventor of the super soaker, he’s made a lasting impact on the childhood of many.
Topping $1 billion in Super Soaker sales, Johnson is also responsible for creating the NERF gun and many other toys.
“It’s interesting that the Super Soaker gets so much attention,” NBC News reports him saying. “I really like to think of myself as a serious engineer!”
Now, after years of making an impact with his water gun, the former airman and NASA engineer is working to empower the next generation with his Johnson STEM Activity Center.
Based in the Atlanta area, Johnson’s non-profit helps to fund high school robotics teams and provide young people with a creative space to work. Recently, one of the organization’s teams, made up of young refugees from nine countries, qualified for the worldwide robotics competition in Texas after just two years of competing.
While his inventions and toys continue to drive cash to his pockets, Johnson makes it clear that one of his greatest contributions is his ability to give back and inspire future engineers.
“If I can make an impact,” he tells NBC News, “clearly it’s something I want to do.”
Mr. Johnson, thank you for paying it forward and investing in the next generation of engineers.