TORONTO, Canada (NNS) -- The Navy took top honors at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Golden Torch Awards ceremony April 3.
Rear Adm. (sel.) Willie L. Metts, division director for Information Operations and Intelligence Assignments at Navy Personnel Command, was recognized as NSBE's Distinguished Engineer of the Year during the organization's 13th annual convention in Toronto, Canada.
Metts, who is the Navy's highest-ranking African-American Information Warfare officer, remarked that he was uniquely humbled and honored to be recognized by NSBE.
"It's hard to believe that a kid from a small town in Georgia with a population of 3,000 would even begin to envision myself standing shoulder-to-shoulder in an audience of giants such as NSBE," said Metts. "It is my hope, and quite frankly, it is my obligation to continue to further professional development and the career enhancement of our future leaders in the greatest navy in the world, the United States Navy, and in our civilian society."
Rear Adm. Arthur J. Johnson, commander, Naval Safety Center and keynote speaker at the awards ceremony, commended the role that NSBE members play in their communities.
"As I look out over this forum, I can't help but see similarities between you and the team I usually roll with, the men and women of the United States Navy. Just like you, our Navy is a large organization, rich with opportunity and dedicated to development of America's resource, our people," said Johnson. "The Navy's forward presence ensures our friends and allies that America remains ready to help defend their independence, maintain their access to the seas, and assist in the event of humanitarian crisis or natural disaster. Much like the Navy, NSBE is a forward-leaning organization. This year's NSBE convention theme, "Engineering a Global Impact," is so appropriate, since you are truly an international organization with more than 33 thousand members in chapters around the world."
NSBE was established in 1975 to increase the number of culturally-responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and impact the community positively.
The Golden Torch Awards are designed to highlight the accomplishments of distinguished black engineers and technical professionals, as well as college-bound students.
The Navy was also honored with NSBE's Chairman's Award for acting as a key sponsor of the Torch Awards. Proceeds from the award ceremony will provide scholarships that will assist high school students achieve the academic goal of a degree in science, math, engineering and technology fields.
The Navy provides significant support to mentoring and training organizations such as NSBE to contribute to its members' professional and personal development and as part of an overall Navy strategy to attract, recruit and retain the brightest minds the nation has to offer. The Navy also maintains strong relationships with several service affinity groups, which are critical to expanding mentoring circles within the Navy. Through more than 60 major diversity-focused events each year, the Navy engages students, parents and key influence groups across the nation to ensure recruitment of America's talent.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.