PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Ann Suzette Burnett, an employee of the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, was recognized as the eCYBERMISSION Ambassador of the Year at an awards luncheon in Reston, Virginia, on June 22.
eCYBERMISSION is a web-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) competition for 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade teams.
Each team proposes a solution to a real problem in their community and then competes for state, regional and national awards. eCYBERMISSION challenges students to explore how STEM works in their world.
Burnett's nomination came from Tinika Fails, a volunteer coordinator with the program.
"The first emotion I felt was gratitude," Burnett said of her reaction to winning the award.
"I have been working with students in STEM-based programs like eCYBERMISSION since my youngest child first entered school," she said.
"Now, with him in college and a wealth of beautiful experiences behind me, I am being recognized and it fills me with humility and hope to continue."
Burnett emigrated to the U.S. from Guyana when she was 10. She lived in Brooklyn, New York, until attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
She graduated with a bachelor's of science degree in in business management.
Burnett is the administrative officer for Future Concepts Division. Her goal is to connect young people to STEM, with a focus on underrepresented communities. For the past 13 years, she has been an enthusiastic volunteer for eCYBERMISSION, first as team advisor then as an ambassador.
Her involvement with eCYBERMISSION began when she advised her son's 8th grade team in 2004.
She then went on to advise approximately 40 teams from Nigerian-Caribbean American communities.
Burnett is not a scientist or engineer but a catalyst who connects students with STEM experts and institutions.
For example, under the guidance of Professor Winston Soboyejo at Princeton University, students conducted several research projects using ceramic filters made from sawdust and clay to provide potable water for people in developing countries, solar powered refrigeration for vaccine, and reearching the efficacy of medicinal plants.
"eCYBERMISSION is my passion,"Burnett said.
"Being an eCYBERMISSION ambassador allows me the opportunity to serve. My joy comes from encouraging young people to identify and solve problems in their community, rather than looking outside of themselves for solutions.
"They get the strength and courage to become problem solvers, and grow into empowered adults. This award encourages me to keep serving where I've found my joy."
At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, high school and college interns investigated mathaematical modeling of malaria with Professor Isom Herron.
Her students contacted the lead researcher, Jeffery Pettis at the United States Department of Agriculture's Beltsville Bee Laboratory, to investigate bee colony collapse disorder.
As the Professional Pre-College Initiative Chair of the orth Jersey National Society of Black Engineers, Burnett is seeking ways to connect the underrepresented community to STEM through various organizations.
Those organizations include the East Orange New Jersey's College and Career Readiness Network; Sudents2Science; Liberty Science Center Community Evenings, and Army Education Outreach Programs like the Gains in Engineering and Math Summer program, and the Junior Science and Humantics Symposium.