Derek McGowan, a veteran program manager at Lockheed Martin, was honored with the Deans Award at the 2018 BEYA STEM Conference for putting everything into developing relationships with the deans, faculty, and students at minority engineering colleges.
“Derek is our jewel and we are proud to present him with our first-ever Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Engineering Dean’s Award,” said Rainia Washington, vice president for Global Diversity and Inclusion.
More recently, McGowan and Washington were part of a team of company executives that pledged a $125,000 donation supporting students at Tuskegee University. Leaders from Lockheed Martin included Julius Rivers, manager, and aeronautical engineer; Kenneth Garrett, director, program management; and Leila Sykes, a systems engineer.
According to Tuskegee, Lockheed Martin currently employs more than 60 Tuskegee alumni.
“Through the Tuskegee alumni who already are a part of our workforce, we keep learning every single day of the potential Tuskegee graduates possess,” said Scott Trapp, Lockheed Martin’s director of global diversity and inclusion, who was also at the check presentation event.
McGowan, Lockheed Martin’s program manager for STEM, Generations and Higher Education, has managed relations with HBCUs for more than 16 years. His support for Tuskegee University’s pre-engineering Freshman Accelerated Start-Up Training for Retention in Engineering Curricula (FAST REC) program has been exemplary. Through his actions, at least 40 pre-engineering high school students are impacted each summer as they receive math and science prep before they join the Tuskegee University College of Engineering program as freshmen.
At the presentation event this August, Trapp said Tuskegee’s FAST REC summer bridge program in the College of Engineering and its university-wide career fairs complement Lockheed Martin’s goals for greater ethnic and gender diversity. Those programs, along with being home to the country’s only HBCU-based aerospace engineering program, make the university an ideal partner, he said.
Because of McGowans’s work, Black Engineer magazine’s Top Supporters of HBCU Engineering Survey ranked Lockheed Martin number 1 for its support of HBCU engineering schools for three years in a row and a Diamond supporter in 2017.
“My dad reached 10th grade when he quit high school to join the Air Force for a better way of life,” McGowan said in his acceptance speech. “He used to say he had more children than stripes, but we were not going without.
“Using his GI Bill, he finished his degree. Following his footsteps, all 5 sons proudly served. My stay-at-home mom instilled great values: humility, commitment, and the importance of giving back. Lockheed Martin has given me the opportunity to do that. Few things in life are the work of just one person. This BEYA Deans Award is no exception,” McGowan said.