AUSTIN, Texas – Senior leaders and science and technology innovators from U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) were among the enthusiastic attendees and awardees at last week’s 37th annual Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Conference.
Held in National Harbor, Maryland, from Feb. 9-11, the event served as a platform to engage budding technologists and experts from industry and academia in honoring the achievements of outstanding engineers, including those making significant research and development contributions in the field of defense.
“At the Department of Defense, it’s our mission to keep the United States safe from a range of 21st century threats,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, who served as a keynote speaker at the BEYA Awards Ceremony on Feb. 11.
“We’re determined to continue innovating to make America more secure,” Austin said, adding “that means drawing on the strengths of all people.”
Also speaking at the BEYA Awards Ceremony was Maj. Gen. Miles Brown, commanding general of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), who emphasized that “the United States Army performs some of the most innovative and challenging science and engineering in the world.”
The evening prior, Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth presented remarks at the conference’s Stars and Stripes Awards Dinner, commenting that “the theme of this year’s awards dinner – Becoming Everything You Are: Answering the Call to Service for our Nation – truly speaks to what a life of service in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force can offer for those who want to apply their talents in the service of our country.”
“As the Secretary of the Army, I know how vital engineers are to everything that our Army does as we transform and modernize,” Wormuth said, acknowledging that “maintaining a ready and capable STEM talent base is a must-do mission for us.”
Wormuth also presented a Stars and Stripes Award to Command Sgt. Maj. LaQuaine Bess of the AFC Support Battalion as part of the evening’s ceremonies, which honored the extraordinary contributions of African Americans in the U.S. military.
Maj. Gen. Jeth B. Rey, director of the AFC Network Cross-Functional Team, co-emceed the Stars and Stripes Awards Dinner. “It is an honor to address such a distinguished audience,” Rey said of the opportunity.
Brown and Rey were joined at the BEYA STEM Conference by fellow speakers and participants from AFC, including Commanding General Gen. James E. Rainey, Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Michelle M. T. Letcher, Chief Human Capital Officer Hong Miller and The Research and Analysis Center (TRAC) Director Pamela Blechinger.
In addition, DEVCOM had multiple leaders in attendance, including Deputy to the Commanding General Eric Moore, Ph.D.; Analysis Center Director Brig. Gen. David Trybula; Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) Director Jeffrey Langhout; AvMC Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate Director James Kirsch, Ph.D.; Acting Science and Technology Director Jeff Thomas; Chief Technology Officer Charneta Samms; and G-1 Deb Dawson.
AFC attendees helped celebrate the event’s honorees, including a number selected from AFC’s own organizations and subordinate commands.
AFC award recipients included:
Lamar Garrett, Chemical Biological Center Field Element Chief, DEVCOM Analysis Center (DAC), recognized with the Career Achievement in Government Award
Patrick G. Taylor, Ph.D., Propulsion Test Branch Chief, DEVCOM AvMC, recognized with the Professional Achievement in Government Award
Kushan Patel, Electronics Engineer, DAC, recognized as a Science Spectrum Trailblazer
James Bowman III, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Software Lead, DEVCOM AvMC, recognized as a Modern-Day Technology Leader
Hampton Terry, Electronics Engineer, DAC, recognized as a Modern-Day Technology Leader
Terrance West, Ph.D., Plans, Programs and Support Division Chief, DEVCOM AvMC, recognized as a Modern-Day Technology Leader
Command Sgt. Maj. LaQuaine Bess, AFC Support Battalion, recognized with the Stars and Stripes Award
The conference additionally afforded opportunities to interact with young professionals interested in pursuing STEM careers.
“That’s why this conference is so important; it’s opening up new opportunities to young people,” Austin said.
AFC personnel supported this effort by offering AFC employment information and mentorship sessions during the career fair portion of the event.
To learn more about the work of AFC and how to get involved, visit https://www.army.mil/futures.