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Three educators who are inspiring next generation engineering students were honored this week as the recipients of the 2015 DiscoverE Educator Awards.

Through this annual recognition, the engineering profession pays tribute to those who bring engineering to life for students in grades 6-12. Unique to this program, engineers, and engineering students are part of the nomination process.

The awards ceremony was held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C.

The 2015 honorees include:

Leon R. Grant III of Marietta High School, Marietta, Georgia
(Nominated by Marcellus T. Pitts M.ASCE, Pitts-Fowler Enterprises, Inc)

Jill Johnson, Johnson Aerospace and Engineering High School, St. Paul, Minnesota
(Nominated by Quandree “Coach Q” Drakeford, Above the Edge)

Daisy Rayela, Thomas Johnson Middle School, Lanham, Maryland
(Nominated by Angela Moran, U.S. Naval Academy)

“As they inspire the next generation of engineers, these teachers play a vital and essential role in helping to shape society’s future,” said Leslie Collins, executive director of DiscoverE. “Most importantly, they are building confidence and opening worlds of possibility for their students through their unwavering passion and commitment.”

Leon R. Grant III
Founder and advisor of the Bridge-Gap STEM Mentoring Program and the Society for Pre-Engineering at Marietta High School, Leon Grant is engaging his students in an extraordinary three-year project to research, engineer, design, and construct “green” sustainable buildings for communities in Haiti, using repurposed shipping containers. In collaboration with student engineers, industry professionals, professional associations and collegiate support, this innovative project provides integrated STEM learning experiences for students in Pre-Engineering, Pre-Architecture, Science, and Mathematic programs. Leon has inspired many of his students to continue on to study engineering in college and become successful engineering professionals.

Jill Johnson
Jill Johnson began her career as an electrical engineer working as a research and development controls specialist. Discouraged by the lack of representation for women and minorities in the engineering field, Jill left her successful engineering career to bring new STEM learning opportunities to underserved students in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Before teaching at Johnson Aerospace and Engineering High School, Jill was instrumental in creating the Engineering Academy at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis. In St. Paul, Jill established STEM camp for middle school students which offer hands-on activities such as rockets, robotics programming, 3D printer projects and flying in the Johnson HS flight simulators. Jill also teaches an innovative course called Bridging Engineering and Education, which trains educators how to introduce K-12 students to engineering.

Daisy Rayela
Daisy Rayela, the STEM Coordinator at Thomas Johnson Middle School (TJMS), is a firm believer that much learning can be done outside of the classroom. Before joining TJMS, Daisy taught at Jose Panganiban National High School where her science club was active in community outreach programs such as building a water system, riprapping the waterways to prevent soil erosion, and planting trees near the seashore to act as wind breaks and prevent soil erosion. Daisy started the Gateway to Technology program at TJMS, providing students with problem-solving, hands-on STEM based activities related to design and modeling, automation and robotics, energy and the environment. Daisy has also coordinated over 60 teachers in her Maryland county into a SeaPerch Consortium (for underwater robotics), leading them in after-school and in-class activities.

The 2015 runners-up include:

Ramatu Gariba, South Municipal Education Directorate, Accra, Ghana
(Nominated by Mubarak Abdulai Mahamah, Ghana Exploration and Production Limited)

Rebekah Hammack, Stillwater Middle School, Stillwater, Oklahoma
(Nominated by Karen A. High, Oklahoma State University)

Cary James, Bangor High School, Bangor, Maine
(Nominated by Dr. Shaleen Jain, University of Maine)

Richard Johnson, Rostrata Primary School, Whilletton, Australia
(Nominated by Saurabh Sharma Woodside Energy, LTD.)

Katie Marchionna, Highland High School, Palmdale, California
(Nominated by Ben Marchionna, Lockheed Martin Corporation)

Aaron Tostado, Da Vinci Science High School, Hawthorne, California
Nominated by Fazlul Zubair, Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems

Jaime Trevino, Foy H. Moody High School Innovation Academy, Corpus Christi, Texas
Nominated by Rudy Medina, Nueces Co. CSCD / Texas A&M University

Kate Youmans, American International School of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
(Nominated by Katherine Culbert, kBase Engineering)

The DiscoverE Educator Awards are sponsored by 3M, Bechtel, ExxonMobil Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Shell Oil Corporation, and the United Engineering Foundation (UEF).

Honorees receive a $2,000 cash prize, and a 3M gift pack of classroom supplies. Runners-up receive $500 each and 3M gift packs.


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