by Charlotte Despard, NGY Cyberjournalist
The NGY Crew at the 32nd Annual BEYA Conference on February 9, 2018. Left to Right: NGY Cyberjournalist Abdul Khan, NGY Cyberjournalist Phoebe Tomsu, Color of STEM VP Curt Simmons, NGY Founder and ASTRA's Futurist, Dr. Ronnie Lowenstein, TC Williams Instructor Ben Lyon, and NGY Cyberjournalist Charlotte Despard.
The 32nd Annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) held in February at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. was the place to be for all those in search of inspiration and opportunity. As a NetGeneration of Youth Cyberjournalist from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, I had the ripe opportunity to be on the spot to cover this special civic activity with my teammates Abdul Khan and Phoebe Tomsu. Our interviews of business and science leaders from across the nation provided us with an inside look into the world of STEM where ‘Any Dream is Reachable.’
As a student in the STEM field, the conference was a great source of inspiration. We met such intelligent and accomplished role models, one of whom is Rayondon Kennedy, manager of the Career and Communications Group that co hosts this annual event with Lockheed Martin Corporation and the Council of Engineering Deans at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. During an interview with our team, Mr. Kennedy shared what the annual BEYA Conference meant to him, repeatedly citing the networking and community building opportunities that the conference offers to youth and adults alike.
Mr. Kennedy could not be more right. Around every corner of the conference lay plenty of eager employers, connections, stories, and friends. Such abundances let me know that within the STEM field, any dream is reachable with the help of just a few connections. For me, the biggest inlets into the field are my own teacher, Mr. Ben Lyon, my mentor, Dr. Ronnie Lowenstein and her videography partners from Color of STEM, all of whom helped to make this experience happen.
The conference also spotlighted a variety of state of the art technologies found currently in the professional STEM field. For example, the U.S. Army had one station that displayed an interactive video game console-style army-grade robot for passersby to test out. What fun to play a robotic video game while being trained for serious military duty! A second US Army station displayed more everyday objects being used in extraordinary ways. We listened intently as Lieutenant Pamela Zhang explained how the army uses 3D printers to revolutionise the military technology used on the battlefield and in their research laboratories.
Finally, the BEYA Conference highlighted the importance of minority representation in STEM careers. Actually seeing and meeting minority executives thriving in their fields was a major component of the conference’s appeal, proving that, no matter the struggle, anyone is capable of succeeding.
All in all, the BEYA Conference was an eye-opening experience for me. Before this event, I just thought that STEM careers were limited to lab research and other classic science careers, but the conference surely proved otherwise. I also learned about the STEM community, the struggle for minority representation in the STEM field, and so much more. Thank you BEYA, TC Williams Instructor Mr Ben Lyon, Global NGY Founder Dr. Ronnie Lowenstein and our Mentors from Color of STEM, Mr Curt Simmons and Mr. Joel Harris.
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