Mar 1, 2017
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Two NAVAIR employees won awards at the 2017 Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Conference Feb. 9-11 in Washington, D.C.
Kwamé Marshall, an electrical engineer, won the Most Promising Engineer - Government Award, and Frederick Smith, an information technology specialist, won a Modern-Day Technology Leader Award. (Read more information on Smith’s award.)
According to BEYA, the Most Promising Engineer Award recognizes an engineer in the early years of his or her career who demonstrates tremendous potential for future technical contributions. Marshall, based out of Patuxent River, is the H-1 lead mission systems engineer and mission computer project lead.
“Over the two years I have known Kwame, I have witnessed him being the first one to volunteer for a grueling task,” said Ron Ashleman, PMA-290 mission systems deputy. “He moves heaven and earth to get the job done and on schedule. He is bright and an intuitive problem solver. He volunteers for numerous mentoring groups. His engineering peers look to him for career advice and he willingly helps others.”
Marshall’s career began as a Department of Defense contractor electrical engineer intern at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, California. He transitioned to the Naval Air Training Systems Division in Orlando, Florida, in June 2012, supporting the P-8A Trainer program. In 2013, Marshall moved to Patuxent River, where he now oversees the production, sustainment, development and retrofit of 12 systems for three H-1 aircraft variants.
"The best advice I would give an upcoming NAVAIR employee in the STEM field would be never be afraid to come out of your comfort zone," Marshall said. "We need to step up to every challenge and opportunity that is presented to us and embrace it. Doing this will make each and every one of us better engineers and scientists."
"I'm motivated by knowing everything that I work on directly affects the warfighter's life," Marshall said. "They depend on me to ensure they have functional and cutting-edge technology to give them every advantage possible to keep us safe."
The Modern-Day Technology Leaders Award recognizes individuals such as Smith who are committed to shaping and strengthening the future of STEM.
“When I found out I was selected, I was excited and rejuvenated,” Smith said. “I felt that some of the fruits of my labor were coming to bear.”
Before joining the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in 2014, Smith served as a federal contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan for five years, supporting operations in information security and identity dominance through using biometric automated toolsets. He currently works in the Weapons System Center for Integration supporting the Warfare Systems Integration Laboratory Engineering Division.
“Since I’ve been here, I have worked to have a thorough knowledge of the environment I work in and the people I support in information security,” he said. “I want to ensure that I’m able to meet with them and align with them in their strategic and tactical goals, as well as their overall mission to ensure that I provide them the tools, information and resources needed to operate safely as they make the new cutting edge widgets or gadgets for our warfighters.”
NAVAIR relies on STEM careers to accomplish research, testing and evaluation, and engineering services. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women and other minorities have historically been unrepresented in STEM fields.
NAVAIR employs more than 2,300 African-American employees, with approximately 800 working in STEM positions.