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Nominees for the Most Promising Engineer Award presented at the BEYA STEM Conference are early-career engineers who demonstrate tremendous potential for future technical contributions. Read about the 2023 winners of this award and relive the BEYA gala experience by watching the video which was streamed on Saturday, Feb. 11.

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Kelan Berry has championed innovation as an Air Force Propulsion Directorate aerospace engineer. With his diverse background, Kelan believes every discipline, role, and perspective adds value. As a former First Robotics team mentor, his most emotional moment was learning that a former student in charge of programming had completed college and was a software engineer for the Air Force. In addition, Kelan’s commitment to working for the government demonstrates his strong desire to serve his country.

“I have always been curious about the physical world; how things are naturally designed,” Berry said during his acceptance speech. “This curiosity drove me toward engineering before I could articulate a career goal. Curiosity is what makes an engineer. For me, mentors molded my interest into a career. I have been fortunate to have a path illuminated by helpful, considerate, and visionary mentors. My career has been filled with coaches and guides, one of whom brought me to this conference over a decade ago as an undergraduate. Thanks to those who take the time to encourage, teach, trust, and guide. Thank you!”

Lieutenant Timothy C. Horton managed a $2.1 billion facility sustainment program across seventy Naval installations. Currently, he is the assistant public works officer for the U.S. Navy’s oldest installation: the Washington Navy Yard. He is a testament to the navy’s core values of honor, courage, and commitment.

“Growing up in Sierra Leone, we did not have fancy toys to play with as kids. So we made our own. Once, I repaired my mom’s old radio. But I could not put it back together because I had more parts than I started with. Those experiences led me to a career in STEM. From my school principal, who stressed the virtues of hard work, to my mentors and military leaders who guided and challenged me, I stand on the shoulders of giants. I am humbled and grateful for the support of my family, friends, and spouse, Aina, who is here with us today.”

As a software solutions architect at Leidos, Kendric Garmon‘s passion for innovative technologies led to developing applications that successfully transport cargo to the International Space Station, which processes thousands of pounds of critical cargo annually. Automation is essential for minimizing human error during these operations. Kendric learned much of his technology and engineering skills through a Prairie View A&M University cooperative education program. Today he gives back to other students by devoting time to promoting STEM in colleges and underserved communities, participating in more than 100 events since 2019, and making sure he and others open doors for each other.

“My passion for engineering and technology began early, from fixing Walkman players to television sets as a kid,” Kendric said. “Working with a great team at Leidos, people who always strive to live up to the company’s core values, and have a strong desire for innovation in every area, fuels me to grow in every area of my career. I want to thank everyone who trusted me along the way, from my family and friends to my mentors and managers who have helped me develop into the engineer I am today. I am grateful to my wife and two sons for always believing in me and for their enduring support and sacrifices.”

From janitor to senior Lockheed Martin engineer, Zephaniah Horton‘s story is one of perseverance. His remarkable journey has led him to promote diversity of thought among his peers in STEM. He embodies the benefits of investing in those with untapped potential. Horton proves that people are not defined by circumstances or decisions. We are capable of excellence however we envision it.

“I’m grateful for and humbled by this award,” he said in his acceptance speech. “During my short tenure in STEM, I’ve hoped to inspire individuals to realize their capacity for excellence even when it has been masked by uncertainty, and to  understand that the difference between them and their peers is not a lack of ability or potential but the absence of opportunities. My story challenges those in STEM to look for and invest in the unseen potential of others while inspiring everyone to imagine themselves surpassing the limitations assigned to them by others. STEM can be a reality for everyone, even the janitor.”

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