They came from all across the nation to honor STEM stalwarts and to reach out to young people considering careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The location was the Marriott Wardman Park in Northwest Washington, where hundreds gathered for workshops and social events at the 2014 Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Conference Feb. 6-8.

The BEYA-STEM Conference, organized by Career Communications Group Inc., created a community of support and encouragement by not only showcasing the works of people of color but also by teaching others in the field how to become leaders in the physical and virtual world.

In the Leadership and Management Skills track of the conference, participants were given new perspectives on how to communicate effectively and also how to increase the performance and relationships of teams that work virtually.
Throughout the various seminars, the dominant theme that emerged was the value and need for diversity in STEM fields.

During the an awards event, honorees were recognized for their contributions to their respective fields. Among the award winners was the conference’s Black Engineer of the Year, Stephanie Hill, the vice president and general manager of Information Systems & Global Solutions for the Lockheed Martin Corporation. Hill encouraged her colleagues to continue to improve themselves, build solid networks and help others.

Conference participants included many men and women in the military, including Lt. Col. Eartha Goban, a professor of Military Science at Bowie State University.

She has worked there to urge young participants to consider working as a STEM professional in the military.

“I against the grain of my family and mother and joined the military,” Goban said. “I was supposed to study early childhood education and become a teacher.”

At the Stars and Stripes Gala, which culminated the three-day event, BEYA Conference participants celebrated the lives and achievements of their own.