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During the HBCU Engineering Deans Recognition event at the 2022 BEYA STEM Conference, the Dr. Christopher Jones Legacy Award was presented by the 2016 Black Engineer of the Year for the third year. A former president of Northrop Grumman’s technology services sector, Jones led more than 14,000 employees operating in 49 states across the U.S. and sixteen countries worldwide.


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Presenting the award to Elise Morris, a Missile Defense Agency (MDA) engineer, Jones spoke of her role in supporting hypersonic defense technology development. Her leadership directly impacts the defense department. In her acceptance speech, Elise said math and science first intrigued her in school.

“The classes allowed me to analyze numbers and theories. And I found myself asking the why and how questions; so I decided to explore the field of engineering. I feel this was one of the best decisions as I could combine my interest in math and science with the curiosity of why questions into one career field. I am blessed to have chosen a field where I can contribute to my community and society.”

Next up was the presentation of the Rodney Adkins Legacy Award. Named after the 2007 Black Engineer of the Year, the award celebrates a career highlighted by leading transformative global teams, managing multi-billion-dollar business units, and delivering product innovations and enterprise solutions.

Over the last 15 years, Monica Lee (photo inset) has demonstrated business agility and leadership in managing critical data for mergers and acquisition projects, said Mitzi Rein, director of business services for Leidos. As a business technology solutions manager, she has developed strong teams that continue to search for efficiencies.

“Despite life’s obstacles, people have the skills and work ethic to do great things, but it takes someone to provide opportunities,” Monica said. “As a young girl, raised in a strong, supportive family, my life goals were set by the time I was sixteen,” she continued. “Having been offered a full scholarship in basketball, my views changed regarding college when I became pregnant with my firstborn. Fifteen years later, while working as a single mother of two young boys, I completed my degree in technology. I provide a positive model for my children, always persevering.”


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