For more than three decades, BEYA – Black Engineer of the Year Award and Becoming Everything You Are – has played a significant role in recruiting minorities into STEM careers.
But it’s so much more than that.
While the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command’s involvement in the conference is relatively new, the military is one of BEYA’s largest science, technology, engineering and math employers.
The BEYA STEM Conference brings together professionals and students from all over the country for three days each year to share experiences, career information and to network. And though it’s marketed as a recruiting event for minorities interested in STEM careers, ethnicity does not exclude anyone. It is open to existing Department of Defense employees, high school graduates, students enrolled in college or technical/vocational programs, recent graduates, 30% disabled veterans and those who are reinstatement-eligible. There are also positions available in non-STEM disciplines.
At the 2021 conference, AMCOM made 15 tentative job offers and ultimately hired 10 people.
Kiran Zeedar was one of them.
“I am half Indian,” she said. “My [maternal] grandparents emigrated from India at the ages of 16 and 21 to the USA to build a life for themselves and [their] kids.”
While she was in her final semester of college last year, a family friend told Zeedar about the BEYA conference.
“I never considered a job as a government civilian for myself – mainly because I assumed it was unattainable,” said Zeedar, a Huntsville/Madison native. “When the opportunity presented itself, I was eager to take advantage.”
After submitting her resume, she got a call from one of the division chiefs in the AMCOM Safety Office.
“I did not have a specific position in mind when applying,” Zeedar said. “However, I was ecstatic when learning what my position would be during the phone interview. I have a [bachelor’s degree] in materials engineering from Auburn University and I was excited to learn that I would be able to apply my educational knowledge in this position with AMCOM Safety.”
Zeedar has been a safety engineer in the AMCOM Safety Office Aviation Division for about eight months and is still trying to find her niche.
“Our office ensures the safety of the Soldiers when using systems provided to them in the field,” she explained. “I always enjoyed and excelled at science and math throughout my childhood.”
Though she wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to be professionally, Zeedar said she knew she wanted to help people. In her newfound profession, she’s helping Soldiers and doing what she said she loves.
“I simply want to help others and helping those that risk their lives for our freedom is the most humbling and gratifying job I can imagine,” she said.
Zeedar’s coworkers and the professional environment have added more enjoyment to her job. She’s looking forward to what her professional future holds.
“My career goals are to gain new experiences and discover what I’m best at,” she said. “In my position, I have exposure to multiple duties/responsibilities and freedom to explore which of those fits me best.”
The 36th BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference were Feb. 17-19 and included in-person awards and mentoring programs at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Army Materiel Command hosted a virtual hiring event Feb. 18-19 in hopes of filling more than 200 jobs – including nearly 30 positions at AMCOM to help achieve diversity and inclusion goals.
“We [were] able to showcase AMCOM job opportunities to high school and college students pursuing STEM careers. This STEM event is great for direct recruiting and attracting STEM professionals to the Army and the AMCOM,” said Haley Ferguson, AMCOM G-1 Operations and Strategic Recruitment Division chief.