March 5, 2011 - March 11, 2011, The Afro-American
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By Lango Deen
Special to the AFRO
“It’s been 25 years of inspiration,” Ted Childs, a retireddiversity executive at IBM Corp., said Feb. 19 at the 25thannual Black Engineer of the Year Awards in the Washington,D.C.The Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA), producedby Career Communications Group, showcases African-American talent in science, technology, engineering and mathand provides students with pathways to lucrative technicalcareers.“It’s an opportunity to connect at a high level of intelligenceand capital with business people who are interested in science,mathematics and engineering and who never get an opportunityto recognize or connect with one another,” said DavidSteward, founder and chairman of St. Louis-based WorldwideTechnology Inc., who attended the event. “It shows theintellectual capital in the Black community and the leadershipin the Black community and the value we bring to this societyand this country and the world.”Over the past two decades, BEYA has put Black mindstogether with major employers such as IBM Corp., Booz AllenHamilton, Raytheon Co., Boeing, Northrop Grumman, NASA,the National Security Agency and the U.S. Navy RecruitingCommand to promote job opportunities in science, technology,engineering and math (STEM) elds.The theme of the 2011 BEYA STEM Conference was“Listen, Learn, Lead.” Throughout the three-day event,students and professionals presented panel discussions andevents focusing on career development, diversity and science,technology, engineering and math education.More than 100 companies and organizations supporting therise of young Blacks into technical careers were on display atthe BEYA Job Fair, one of several recruitment, recognition andretention events held at the conference.The Black Engineer of the Year Award, along with otherspresented during the ceremony on Saturday, recognizes “truepioneers who have achieved exceptional career gains ingovernment and industry, who have already merited lifetimeachievement recognition, and who have energized theircompanies and their communities alike.”BEYA’s top award, the 2011 Black Engineer of the Year,was presented to Lloyd Howell, executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton. Twenty other category award winners,including Boeing Senior Vice President Wanda Denson-Low,were also recognized for innovation, career advancementand diversity programs. “Boeing considers diversity to be astrategic advantage in attracting the best talent available andenabling innovation by bringing together different viewpoints,”said Norma Clayton, vice president Learning, Training andDevelopment for Boeing. “Many Boeing people have receivedBEYA awards over the years, and the awards are a terricconrmation that we are on the right track.”In Howell’s acceptance speech, he said he felt honored tobe selected as the 25th Black Engineer of the Year. “I wake upeveryday excited to make a difference,” he said.Howell, a Philadelphia native, praised the BEYA culture andshared a little-known story: He was one of the young athletesin Jim Ellis’ all African-American swim team, depicted in the2007 lm
starring Terrence Howard. Howell laudedthe inspiration of Ellis’ quiet struggle against racism andbureaucracy.Howell serves as volunteer assistant coach for DC Heat,a youth basketball team. On behalf of Booz Allen Hamilton,he has supported the United Negro College Fund and LincolnUniversity.His involvement with UNCF is not unusual in thiscommunity. BEYA has a history of persuading employers torecognize the strength of engineering departments at historicallyBlack colleges and universities.The HBCU Engineering Deans’ Roundtable has fosteredcooperation between hiring ofcers and even a new industry-academic partnership: AMIE (Advancing Minorities Interest inEngineering). Scholarships, internships, donation of laboratoryequipment and loans of professionals for faculty positions haveall come out of the connection.BEYA is the brainchild of Career Communications GroupCEO Tyrone Taborn, who also publishes a number of diversitytitles including
US Black Engineer & Information Technology
magazine.“Tyrone’s vision is inextricably linked to democracy andAmerica’s economic system, and our responsibility to it isrealized not just for Black America, Hispanic America or NativeAmerica but for America,” Ted Childs said.BEYA’s rst event was held February 1987 at Morgan StateUniversity in Baltimore.“The timing of the event was not accidental,” said EugeneM. DeLoatch, veteran dean of the School of Engineeringat Morgan State and longtime chairman of the Councilof Engineering Deans of Historically Black Colleges andUniversities. “It was planned to coincide with observance of National Engineers Week and to serve historically as a ttingtribute to those close to Black History Month.”Bill Granville was a high-ranking oil executive when heattended BEYA in 1987. He led a positive report with Mobil.Mobil’s CEO, seeing that diversity and inclusion made businesssense, wrote a letter to other Fortune 500 CEO’s, telling themhe had discovered a talent development program he thoughtthey should support.The rest, as they say, is history. Top defense contractor,Lockheed Martin Corp., has co-hosted BEYA for more than adecade, and corporate attendance reaches to the executive levelsof management.“You see these major corporations get excited – Raytheon,Lockheed, Boeing – these major players and their CEO’s,”David Steward said. “And they are there to recognize thesignicant contributions these African-American engineers andleaders not only make to business, but to society.”In the mid-1980s, when BEYA was initiated, Blackrepresentation among the nation’s 1.6 million engineers wasonly 2 percent – 32,000 men and women. By the turn of the millennium, many baby boomers were heading towardsretirement and there was a need for younger professionals totake their place in the workforce.“Demand for qualied STEM professionals has grownconsiderably in the past 25 years, and it will only continue toexpand,” said Taborn. “Our advancements come from intrepidengineers and technologists, from business executives boldenough to take chances.”And BEYA has become an important hub for these intrepidengineers and bold executives to connect with one another. “It’sexciting to be around,” Steward said. “It’s contagious.”
– Additional reporting by Garland L. Thompson
In Praise Of Black Engineers
BEYA: Where Corporate America Meets and Encourages Black Talent
Photos by Glenwood Jackson Studio
Boris Kodjoe and Lloyd and Patricia Howell posed for aphoto after Lloyd Howell received the Black Engineer of the Year Award.
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