REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (June 5, 2023) – Engineer Latoya Dorsey’s least favorite subject in school was math.
Even with a schoolteacher mother, Dorsey said that it was her weakest class. That is, until they found the right tutor.
“It was as if a lightbulb switched on,” Dorsey said.
And from there, Dorsey’s love of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, took off. Dorsey, a longtime employee with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, currently matrixed to PM Aviation Mission System and Architecture under Program Executive Office - Aviation, was recently named Tennessee Valley’s Remarkable Woman by Huntsville news station WHNT.
What makes the award even more personal is that her husband filled out the nomination packet. Sitting down to talk with Dorsey about her life and career, it is quickly obvious that she was a shoo-in for the award. Dorsey’s longtime work with community youth, serving as a mentor or tutor in the world of STEM, has paid it forward for numerous schoolchildren who might not have had a positive STEM exposure otherwise. Dorsey provided their lightbulb moment.
For the Huntsville native, even after she decided to major in mathematics and computer science at Alabama A&M University, female role models were few and far between. She later completed a master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, but once again, female engineering mentors – especially those of color – were not plentiful. So, Dorsey decided to become one.
As part of her involvement in the National Society of Black Engineers, Dorsey helped spearhead a local STEM camp for Huntsville City Schools. An endeavor that started with just 50 kids grew to more than 400 students.
“We were trying to spark kids into getting into robotics,” she shared, noting that they were successful as the robotics camp was the early model for robotics and other STEM offerings in the school system.
Dorsey shared that love of STEM with her own daughters, now in college, dispelling to them the typical “pocket protector man” stereotype and sharing all the different creative areas that engineering encapsulates – from video games to amusement rides.
Dorsey, who for several years operated her own tutoring company, said that oftentimes tutoring can have a negative stigma that she has worked to change, preferring to call it, “enrichment.”
“Everyone is not the same,” Dorsey said. “It is not as though a child cannot do it; they just might need to see it a different way.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.