JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Dec. 9, 2020) -- A Soldier from the 923rd Contracting Battalion at Fort Riley, Kansas, is the recipient of the 2020 Black Engineer of the Year Award.
Army Contracting Command leaders announced Sgt. 1st Class Robert Nicholson, a contracting specialist, as the winner of the BEYA Student Leadership-Graduate Level Award at the end of November.
The Priory, Jamaica, native credits the influence by the 923rd CBN command team, Lt. Col. Robert Bartruff and Sgt. Maj. Jason Martinez, for his successes and support to pursue valuable opportunities.
“Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. My immediate leaders were my greatest advocates in applying for this opportunity,” he said. “They did not allow me to doubt myself in the slightest, and their initial endorsement followed by those of the higher levels of Mission and Installation Contracting Command and Army Contracting Command leadership were key to my strong competitive position toward earning the award.”
He also acknowledges his military and civilian mentors as instrumental in pushing him to seek challenges and earning the award. They include Col. Nathanael Bryant, Maj. Jonathon Gardner, Maj. John Piccione, David Christ and Anne Carman.
“All these individuals, and many un-named others are to be thanked for my success,” Nicholson said.
The student leader award recognizes the lifetime achievements by students who strive to make outstanding contributions to varied aspects of science, technology, engineering or math. And since enlisting in the Army in April 2004 as a biological research specialist, Nicholson’s drive to continue learning and contributing to STEM efforts have yet to slow.
In the award nomination, Brig. Gen. Christine Beeler, the MICC commanding general, said Nicholson is an exceptional leader who has devoted his career to excellence, being an inspirational leader, and an ambassador for both the STEM and military communities.
“His stellar military record has enabled him to hold trusted positions of distinct responsibility and authority throughout his career,” Beeler said. “His experiences provide a perspective of practical applications in the ‘Science Behind the Soldier,’ which enhances the Army STEM mission.”
That lifelong pursuit includes both personal and professional achievements. He possesses a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Procurement and Acquisition Management, Master of Science in Homeland Security and is presently working toward a Doctorate of Business Administration. His academic recognition includes earning the Trident University Alumni Scholarship, Dr. Harry Haakenson Fellowship for Research in the Environmental Sciences, Curagen Undergraduate Achievement Scholarship, Haakenson Award in Chemistry for Leadership and Professionalism, New England Estuarine Research Society Warren Award for Best Undergraduate Poster Presentation, and national dean’s list. He also serves as an academic peer mentor for a doctoral studies pursuit group, and academic mentor for higher education and self-development, and chairman for the Dr. Cindo Nicholson Memorial STEM Fellowship.
Nicholson is finishing a six-month developmental assignment with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Small Business Office in support of the Army Futures Command. Prior to that, he served as the NCO in charge of training, plans and operations for the 923rd CBN.
“The Army Futures Command developmental was a great opportunity to bring all the skills from my previous military occupation specialty as a medical laboratory specialist and biological research assistant, knowledge from my undergraduate training in chemistry, and understanding of how important small business integration and development is critical to maintaining scientific and technological advantage over our adversaries,” he said. “As a business adviser, a broad background in a variety of fields is key to provide sound business advice in the multi-dimensional global economy and battlespace that we operate in.”
Nicholson reclassified as a 51 Charlie Contracting NCO with the Army Acquisition Corps in June 2012 and is Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level III certified in contracting. His assignments include the 418th Contracting Support Brigade and 901st CBN before joining the 923rd CBN.
As he prepares for his next assignment with the 411th CSB in South Korea in the coming weeks, he encourages all Soldiers and his civilian peers to seek out all developmental opportunities.
“Always be ready to apply to any short suspense opportunities by keeping your professional records up to date, such as professional and military resume, cover letters and biographies,” he said. “And never discredit yourself and your worth. As 51C servicemembers, we make many tangible and – equally important, but less immediately realized – intangible contributions to the force. If you don't apply for every developmental or assignment that interests you, you may have just missed your shot.”
About the MICC:
Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. As part of its mission, MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.