By : Lango Deen
DETROIT, MI (U.S. Black Engineer) — The 2021 Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA), held Thursday, Feb. 11 through Saturday, Feb. 13, was an all-digital event. The year’s conference theme was “Stand Up. Step Up. Make a Change,” a call to social justice action. Participants in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields had access to 24 hours of events, award shows, and entertainment.
An iconic line up of stars, including jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright, singer Parris Lane, and Detroit’s DJ Smooth, headlined performances featuring music that celebrated 500 years of African American culture, the contributions of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Blacks in the U.S. military and federal service.
BEYA’s 35th annual STEM conference offered career development seminars, presentations, and workshops led by 150 influential speakers, managers, directors, recruiters, decision-makers, and college administrators. Discussions focused on navigating health care during COVID-19, the economy, diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces.
High-profile companies at the Technology Recognition event feat. Modern-Day Leaders and Science Spectrum Trailblazers event included Amazon, The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Raytheon Technologies, and Walmart Global Tech.
During the specially produced 35th Annual BEYA Gala, the 2021 Black Engineer of the Year Award went to Gerald Johnson, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing. He was recognized for his commitment to mentoring, promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and leading General Motors’ (GM) efforts to support the United States during the pandemic.
Johnson, the first African American to lead manufacturing at General Motors, heads GM’s global manufacturing operations, manufacturing engineering, and labor relations organizations. He is a member of the GM Senior Leadership Team and reports to Mary Barra, chairman, and CEO of General Motors Company. “Gerald’s passion for the business, strong leadership skills, and extensive manufacturing and labor experience will help in our efforts to continue to transform the company, supporting both the core business and future of mobility,” said Barra. Johnson is the third GM employee to be named Black Engineer of the Year after Alicia Boler Davis in 2018 and Ed Welburn, the sixth design chief in GM’s history, in 2015. Boler Davis and Welburn both made comments during the live-streamed ceremony.
One of the BEYA gala highlights included Mrs. Lynn Gerald Johnson serenading her husband with a song that the family holds dear. During his acceptance speech. Johnson stressed the importance of hard work, family, faith, and community.
Bruce T Crawford, retired Lieutenant General Bruce T. Crawford, 2020 Black Engineer of the Year, and former chief information officer, United States Army, beamed in for the prestigious black-tie “Passing the Torch” ceremony with his wife to congratulate the 2021 winner of the award.
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In addition to General Motors, there were award ceremony remarks from captains of industry, head of federal agencies and military commanders from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Army Engineer Research and Development Center, AT&T, Bell Textron Inc., The Boeing Company, Clemson University, Collins Aerospace, Corning Incorporated, Corteva Agriscience, Exelon Utilities, Ford Motor Company, General Dynamics Information Technology, Idaho National Laboratory, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Leidos, Lockheed Martin Corporation, The MITRE Corporation, NASA Langley Research Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, Naval Research Laboratory, U.S. Navy, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Office of Naval Research, Raytheon Technologies, Sandia National Laboratories, Spirit AeroSystems, U.S. Army, United States Air Force, University of the District of Columbia, University of Houston, Mission and Installation Contracting Command, and Walmart.
At this year’s 16th annual Stars and Stripes Recognition event, part of the 2021 Black Engineer of the Year STEM conference, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff served as keynote speakers and presenters for awards uniformed and federal Black scientists and engineers. Top brass at Stars and Stripes included General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James C. McConville, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger, and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. The Military Tribute Hall compiled memorable Black achievements in the United States military.
The BEYA World Digital Platform showcased the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Village, which featured the all-digital HBCU Engineering Deans Recognition program, the HBCU Homecoming event, and interactions with engineering deans from ABET-accredited schools at 15 HBCUs. They graduate most of America’s Black engineers.
The digital platform was also a place for job seekers. More than 100 booths were staffed by staffing specialists, corporate recruiters, and talent management professionals offering job interviews, internships, co-ops, and other positions.
The BEYA Pre-College Program featured young people’s activities to diverse STEM opportunities. Students, alumni, parents, and supporters of K-12 organizations focused on STEM.
Career Communications Group (CCG) holds its annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Conference during Black History Month. The annual observance, which begins each year on Feb.1 and ends on the last day of February, celebrates 500 years of African American history culture and their history. Each year, the BEYA STEM Conference coincides with the national celebration of inspiration.
The 2022 BEYA STEM Conference will be hosted in Washington D.C. Information can be found at http://www.beya.org.
National BDPA’s Greater Washington D.C. and Baltimore chapters are co-hosts for BDPA Members attending annual BEYA events. Join, renew, or update membership profiles at BDPA.org for special VIP or all-access invitations.
— Photo credits: GM, CCG, and U.S. Black Engineer Magazine