WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Flag officers, civilians, and SES members were honored at the 26th Annual Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Global Competitiveness Conference Awards in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 16-18.
The three-day BEYA conference, sponsored by Aerotek and Career Communications Group (CCG), attracts thousands of STEM professionals and also serves as a learning tool for students interested in pursuing professional interests in engineering.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert presented the Stars and Stripes Navy honoree award to Rear Adm. Willie Metts at the Stars and Stripes dinner Feb. 17. Each of the Stars and Stripes awards recognizes the significant accomplishments of African Americans in government and industry who have achieved exceptional career gains in the fields of STEM. More than 40 Navy flag officers attended the ceremony, as well as Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D. West and Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy.
Following the dinner, Greenert and West took the opportunity to mingle with conference attendees. Greenert also spoke with Midshipmen about their future careers with the Navy.
"We felt like rock stars, because we were the first people he met with after he did his press conference. It made me feel like someone important," said Midshipman Allen-Wesley Powell. "I walked out onto the floor and a general pulled me aside and introduced me to the people he was with, and it was a great experience right off the bat. Honestly, my head is still spinning. It's a lot to take in. There have been a lot of stars and stripes here - they really don't call it the Stars and Stripes dinner for nothing."
"This is just mindblowing," said Kami Carter, chemist for the Materials Engineering Division of Naval Air Systems Command. Carter was honored with an award for Most Promising Engineer during the HBCU Engineering Deans' power breakfast. "I'm surrounded by all of these more experienced people, and it is just so inspiring to come out and be honored like this. I aspire to be like them, and yet here I am today. There are no words to say how honored I am."
Also honored with special recognition at the HBCU Engineering Deans' Power Breakfast Feb. 18 was Veradie Ore, deputy program manager for NAVSEA PMS 435, and Ben Thompson, new technology insertion engineer for Naval Air Systems Command. Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy and Vice Adm. David Archizel presented the respective awards.
The weekend culminated with the annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards Gala Feb. 18. Navy honoree Walter Reuben, test and evaluation manager for NAVSEA PMS 450, was presented the award for Outstanding Technical Contribution - Government by McCoy, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command.
In addition to the multiple award events, BEYA also hosted several mentoring workshops dedicated to matching more than 250 STEM students and Midshipmen with military and civilian leaders. The various workshops included more than 40 Navy flag officers and Senior Executive Service (SES) officials who participated in small roundtable discussions with students, about topics including leadership,career opportunities, and networking.
"I've actually been coming to BEYA since I was a Midshipman, and things like the Centennial Seven mentoring session, which we had when I was a Midshipman, have been really influential for me," said Lt. Dane Brown, an instructor at the United States Naval Academy and BEYA Modern Day Technology Leader Award honoree. "I feel it's important that while I'm here, and while I come back, I help push some of the mids along that way, and I feel BEYA is a great place for it."
Midshipman Christopher Simmons, who has a goal of becoming a nuclear engineer upon graduation, said BEYA was a great opportunity to meet prospective leaders in his future career field.
"I just wanted to make some connections, meet some new people and see who are the top engineers in the armed forces and the civilian sector," said Simmons. "I've been here before, and it's pretty interesting. People have a lot of interesting things to say, and they've done a lot of interesting things. It's cool to hear what people have contributed to the world."
"I think that's what it's all about, recognizing the importance of diversity and watching the trend of where we're going," said Brown. "Clearly we're doing a good job, and we just need to keep along that path. I'm really glad we do something like this. Bringing the military and industry together, and more importantly our students, and paving the future is so important. I hope that is something we continue to do."
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Office of Diversity and Inclusion, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.