ORLANDO, Fla. -- Engineers with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command received awards Oct. 11 at the 24th annual Hispanic Engineers National Achievement Awards Conference.

Leticia Pachecho, a human factors engineer with RDECOM's Army Research Laboratory, and Angel Castro, an engineering technician with RDECOM's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, were honored.

Pacheco was recognized as most promising engineer or scientist with a graduate degree and was presented with her award during The Salute to our STEM Military and Civilian Heroes dinner.

Gerardo Melendez, director of RDECOM's Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, presented the award.

"Dr. Pacheco's dedication and quick study has provided recommendations and assessments of military systems to many decision makers," Melendez said, "and ultimately [to] Congress, with the purpose of informing their decisions on policy and equipping the force."

When she accepted the award, Pacheco gave thanks to those who mentored her in school.

"Reflecting back, I recall a conversation with my high school math teacher," she said, "who challenged me to consider an engineering career. He listened to my interests and introduced me to the field that incorporated those interests. He planted the seeds and others would cultivate it.

"Mentoring and investing time in our children and their interests can have a significant and lasting impact on the future of our Latinos in STEM."

Pacheco is highly deserving of the award, said Laurel Allender, director of ARL's Human Research and Engineering Directorate.

"The enthusiasm with which she tackles her responsibilities is testament to her inner drive to maintain the highest technical standards as well as her dedication to the users of our systems -- the American Soldier," Allender said. "She has applied her valuable talents in diverse and innovative ways through her application of the science and technology upon which human factors engineering is founded."

Castro was recognized for outstanding technical achievement and was presented with a HENAAC Military Luminary award.

"Angel is a day-to-day mentor to the Center's engineers and scientists and he is proactive in offering his assistance to customers," Melendez said. "In fact, he recently expanded the Center's ability to assist first-responders with maintenance and repair of their self-contained breathing apparatus."

Alvin Thornton, director of ECBC's Engineering Directorate, feels Castro deserves the award.

"Mr. Castro's quick support to our customer on two OCONUS deployments helped to strengthen the operational capability of our military," Thornton said. "[He is] a retired Army noncommissioned officer [and he] brings a Warfighter's perspective to our mission."

Humberto Galarraga, chief of ECBC's Detection Decontamination Engineering Division, agreed.

"His unique capabilities and qualities set Mr. Castro apart from others in that he is selflessly dedicated not only to the Warfighter's mission but the mission of the Center to provide the highest quality services to keep our military men and women safe," Galarraga said. "It gives me a great sense of pride knowing there are individuals at the Center like Mr. Castro."