In a landmark weekend that will pay tribute to African Americans in science, engineering, and technology at the 24th annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Global Competitiveness Conference ceremony will be hosted at the Baltimore Convention Center Feb. 18-20.

The awards ceremony will honor Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward, the first commander of US Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, with the BEYA Lifetime Achievement Award. Ward earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Morgan State University and holds a master’s in political science from Penn State. Prior to his current position, Ward served as the deputy commander, Headquarters U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, among other prestigious staff assignments over the course of 39 years of service to the U.S. Army.

Since Ward was first commissioned into the Army in June 1971, the general has collected several prestigious badges such as the Distinguished Service Medal, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge and the Legion of Merit to name a few.

Among other honorees is Vice Adm. Adam Robinson, Navy surgeon general, who will receive the Medical Officer of the Year Award for his contribution to relief efforts in Haiti.

“As the Medical Officer of the Year Award, I accept it because we truly are committed to not only our graduate health educated programs, but we’re also very committed to medical research and to the research and development world, those things that will help us and help the people that we serve,” Robinson added. “So I think that this emphasizes our commitment to medical and scientific research.”

The BEYA recognize those with exceptional career gains in various vocations and this year a record 50 awardees are Navy men and women. Service men will also hold three break-out sessions for local high school students focusing on leadership, academic success and physical fitness as well as collaborate with engineering deans at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to educate them about career opportunities in the Navy.

“One of the things that the BEYA dinner emphasizes is that minorities in research, science and particularly in the STEM (science, technology, electronics and mathematics),” said Robinson. “Those are the things that we need to emphasize with our young people and those are the things from an academic prospective we really need to .”


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO