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2021 Black in STEM

Distinguished Alumni

Clay Wilson

Clayton A. Wilson III


Clayton A. Wilson III is a 1949 graduate of the Eberly College of Science. He is the oldest living alum of the college who identifies as Black.

He has documented his life and journey in his memoir Molding Clay. In this, he explains how he came from a segregated community outside of Philadelphia and attended an all-Black school. Clay arrived in University Park to pursue his college education with no idea where to live—he walked into the Corner Room and asked the cashier to help him find a place to live. He was a pioneer at Penn State, after which he continued his career as an Air Force pilot. He returned to Penn State and earned a second degree in meteorology in 1959.

After his career as a pilot and weather forecaster with the Air Force, he had a 25-year career working in semiconductor manufacturing.

Clay is the proud father of three children and four grandchildren and is retired in California.