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The Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) program recognizes mid-career professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) who have made significant strides in their careers and are leading large STEM initiatives.

One of the categories is the Professional Achievement Award.

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The 2023 Professional Achievement Award winners were Paige Brown, an electrical engineer and a program manager for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at the Food and Drug Administration; Patrick Taylor, a branch chief at the Propulsion Test Branch of the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM); Sean Bradshaw, a Raytheon Technologies sustainable propulsion fellow, and Candice Smith, a director of engineering people strategy at The Boeing Company.

In 2019, Krystle Z. McClain received the Professional Achievement in Government Award. The award was jointly presented by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Commander, Chief of Civil Engineers Rear Admiral John Corker, and Public Works Officer Yokosuka Commander Jason M. Wood.

Both commanders praised McClain’s passion and accomplishments in federal government service. Over the past 13 years, McClain has led organizations in three major branches of the defense department. Additionally, McClain has been involved in community service and youth activities.

McClain graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a master’s in civil and environmental engineering. She spent her early career working in the private sector before entering the federal civil service in 2008 as an environmental coordinator for the U.S. Army.

In 2011, McClain transferred to the Air Force as a program manager for the Environmental Quality Branch. She then transitioned to the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland as an environmental planner. For over five years (2010-2015), she served as an adjunct environmental science professor at American Public University.

In 2015, McClain joined the U.S. Navy’s engineering command, accepting a supervisory role as the environmental planning branch chief at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. In 2017, she was appointed to her current position as installation ecological program director.

During her acceptance speech, McClain shared that she was once fired from a private firm but found her calling in the government. She encouraged others to keep striving despite setbacks and obstacles.

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