WASHINGTON, D.C. --
Marines and representatives from the four military services joined forces with defense industry business professionals and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students during the 2013 Black Engineer of the Year Awards and Stars and Stripes Dinner at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel here, Feb. 8.
The day’s events were an opportunity to recognize the achievements of servicemembers in the STEM fields. In addition, high school and college students in attendance had the opportunity to learn more about service in the Marine Corps during the BEYA Career Fair and during mentor sessions with general officers.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to interact with young people, who in many cases already have a propensity toward military service,” said Maj. Frank Moore, diversity officer, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “BEYA is so important because we need tech-students to perform duties like being pilots, commanding tank platoons or being intelligence officers. More importantly, we need Marines who have the ability to assess a problem, think through multiple solutions and then select the best option. STEM students possess that capability.”
On-hand to serve as mentors to students were 23 Marine Corps general officers and Senior Executive Service members.
Senior Executive Service members are distinguished civilian employees with the same level of responsibility as general officers.
Students had an opportunity to discuss their educational aspirations and learn the different ways military service can help them achieve those goals through small group discussions with some of the most accomplished Marines in the Corps.
For one computer science student, the mentoring sessions served to strengthen his already high opinion of the military.
“I think the military is an attractive option for [STEM] students because the military is often out in front developing new technology,” said Tyson Carter-Childs, 24, a computer science major from Howard University and Silver Spring, Md. native. “The military gives you the opportunity for professional development while at the same time serving the United States.”
In addition to interacting with students on hand, Marines also had the chance to leave positive impressions upon the parents, educators and business professionals in attendance.
“With the influencers we share myriad opportunities in the Corps so when they go home they can tell a true and positive story about the Marine Corps,” said Moore. “By having so many general officers here as mentors, we’re saying to the influencers that we value the success of their students, beyond just recruiting.”
Capping off the evening was the presentation of awards recognizing the contributions in the area of STEM by servicemembers currently on active duty.
General John M. Paxton, Jr., assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, presented the Marine award to Col. Mitchell E. Cassell, commanding officer, Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.
“I received the award for being a role model and an example of someone who has succeeded in the Marine Corps in the STEM field,” said Cassell, a CH-53 pilot.
According to Cassell, the Marine Corps’ need for individuals proficient in the STEM fields will only get larger, further emphasizing the importance of the engagement opportunity BEYA presents.
“The American way is to heavily leverage technology to give us an edge on the battlefield,” said Cassell. “We need people who understand technology and the young generation has a natural gravitation towards it. Their inclination toward all things tech will make it easier for us to operate and be successful moving forward.”