This weekend, a cross-section of award-winning data scientists, technologists, and engineers gathered in Washington DC to celebrate a new class of inductees into the BEYA Hall of Fame.
The Lyons brothers, Elliott and Vince, cohosted the event with Career Communications Group CEO Tyrone Taborn, who is chairman of the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Alumni Association. Elliott J. Lyons is vice president of research and development at Yeti, a manufacturer specializing in outdoor products. Last year, ActivePure named Vincent Lyons as its new chief technology officer. The twin brothers were both inducted into the BEYA Hall of Fame in 2011.
Since 1986, Career Communications Group (CCG) has honored thousands of men and women on the pages of US Black Engineer, Hispanic Engineer, and Women of Color magazines and at the Women of Color and BEYA STEM conferences.
The 2023 honorees were recognized for devoting time and energy to ensure that CCG’s career development and STEM programs continue to expand and that the conference seminars provide participants with the knowledge and skills they need to advance in the digital age. Here are the inductees:
As chief data scientist and Intel Fellow, Melvin Greer, Ph.D. has achieved the company’s preeminent technical distinction. His systems and software engineering experience have resulted in patented inventions in Cloud computing, synthetic biology, and Internet of Things (IoT) biosensors for edge analytics. Dr. Greer provides technical expertise on data science concepts and inspires the adoption of advanced analytics and data governance across use cases of health and life science, retail, threat intelligence, financial services, energy, and transportation. Dr. Greer is also a Fellow of the National Cybersecurity Institute, where he assists in meeting the challenges in cyber security. A board member at several historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Dr. Greer leads initiatives to shape more diverse technical talent. He is a professor of the Master of Science in Data Science program at Southern Methodist University and adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches the Master of Science course, Practical Applications of Artificial Intelligence. In addition, he is the founder and managing director of the Greer Institute for Leadership and Innovation, focused on research and deployment of a 21st Century Leadership Model.
Ken Washington, Ph.D. is vice president and general manager of consumer robotics at Amazon. He leads the team responsible for creating robotic devices and services that serve as invaluable assistants, endearing companions, and trusted helpers in homes and businesses. In 2021, Washington’s team introduced Astro, Amazon’s first household robot, and is now leading the addition of new features for Astro and the expansion of the business to support the needs of business owners. Before joining Amazon, Washington was chief technology officer (CTO) at Ford Motor Company, overseeing the automaker’s technology strategy development. His portfolio at Ford included propulsion systems, sustainable and advanced materials, additive manufacturing, next-gen vehicle architectures, and automated systems. Before joining Ford, Washington worked as vice president of the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Advanced Technology Center, as Lockheed Martin Corporation’s first chief privacy officer, and as the vice president and CTO for Lockheed Martin Information Technology. Before joining Lockheed Martin, Washington served as the chief information officer (CIO) for Sandia National Laboratories.
As dean of the College of Engineering and professor of mechanical engineering at North Carolina A&T State University, Robin Coger, Ph.D., led the college’s strategic planning process and worked with administrators, faculty, and staff to further expand the college’s enrollment, academic programs, research productivity, and visibility. Her technical research expertise is in solving design and performance problems related to engineered tissues and organs, particularly on liver replacement devices and their safe storage for off-the-shelf availability. Throughout her higher education career, Coger has promoted engineering as a career for diverse minds, including underrepresented and female populations. She is currently a board member of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, Advancing Minorities Interest in Engineering (AMIE), and FIRST, an organization founded to inspire the interest and participation of young people in engineering, science, and technology. She serves on the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Engineering Advisory Committee and the Committee on Defense Research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Other Minority Institutions. She is also a member of the editorial board of the American Society of Engineering Education publication PRISM.
Pamela McCauley, Ph.D. is an accomplished engineer, educator, and world-renowned advocate for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. She has authored more than 100 technical publications. She is the associate dean of academic programs at the Wilson College of Textiles at North Carolina State University. Previously, she was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at M.I.T. In 2018, she was appointed program director for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps or I-Corps program and served in this role until 2020. She is a fellow at the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers fellow and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. An innovator, entrepreneur, and engineering researcher in developing fuzzy mathematical models, she is recognized for leadership in engineering and biomechanics. As an award-winning educator, she aims to empower STEM students and professionals to pursue educational, entrepreneurial, and career goals.
Melvin Williams, Jr., U.S. Navy retired, is a 1978 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He and his father are the only family in U.S. history where the father achieved the top Enlisted rank, and the son reached a top officer rank. They are also co-authors of the book, Navigating the Seven Seas, which is recommended to read on the Navy Reading Program list. A nuclear-trained submariner, Melvin’s career included service as an enlisted sailor and more than three decades as a commissioned officer. In 1994, he became the first African American to command a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. As commanding officer, his team earned a Navy and Air Force Strategic Performance Award, becoming the first Ohio-class submarine to win the Omaha Trophy for excellence. He is one of the U.S. Navy and Submarine Force “Centennial Seven,” the first seven African Americans to command a navy submarine in the first 100 years of the U.S. Submarine Force. In 2006, he became the sixth African American to reach vice admiral rank. In 2008 he became commander of the U.S. Second Fleet, which oversaw 126 ships, 4,500 aircraft, and 90,000 personnel home-ported at U.S. Navy installations along the United States East Coast.
As president of Dominion Energy Virginia, Edward “Ed” Baine is responsible for all facets of the electric utility with the generation, transmission, and distribution assets that provide electric service to about 2.7 million customer accounts in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Baine is also active in his community. He is a member of the board of directors of the Dominion Energy Credit Union, the Southeastern Electric Exchange, a trade association of investor-owned electric utility companies; ChamberRVA, the chamber of commerce that represents greater Richmond, Virginia; Venture Richmond, which engages business and community leaders in partnering with the city to enhance economic development and advocacy; and the C.J.W. Medical Center. In addition, he serves on the board of visitors at Virginia Tech and as vice rector. He also sits on the board of directors of the Virginia Tech Athletic, ERPI Research Advisory Committee, The Valentine Museum, and MEGA Mentors, a program that prepares middle school students for the future. He serves on the board of directors of Virginia Learns and is a member of the America Revolution 250 Commission.
Donna Bell, Ph.D, is the executive vice president of product creation, engineering, and supply chain at Lordstown Motor Corporation (LMC). She is responsible for developing L.M.C. vehicles, subsystems, hardware and software, and supply chain partnerships from concept to launch. Dr. Bell has over 30 years of experience in engineering, product development, mobility, autonomous vehicle, strategy, and research. Her work in electronic modules and infotainment systems led to her receiving multiple patents. Her leadership was critical in building Ford’s Greenfield labs facility in Palo Alto. She was responsible for acquiring talent, managing a multi-million-dollar budget, fostering an innovation culture, and connecting Silicon Valley technologies to Ford’s portfolio. Dr. Bell’s involvement in the community includes educational programs that expand opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields for students. She earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Lawrence Technological University, two master’s in electronics and computer control systems and engineering Management, and a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering, all from Wayne State University.
Charlotte Farmer, Ph.D. guides operations and the development of global infrastructure at UL Research Institutes, a leading independent safety science organization. Before joining UL Research Institutes, Farmer directed operations at MITRE and worked with clients to foster technological innovation. She has helped private, and public sector organizations promote change for over two decades. The U.S. Secretary of Defense appointed her to the Army Science Board, where she serves as subcommittee chair. Farmer also chairs the finance committee of The National G.E.M. Consortium Board of Trustees, enhancing human capital by increasing the participation of underrepresented groups at the master and doctoral levels in engineering and science. Farmer is also chair emeritus of the board of Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, chair emeritus of the Leadership, Ethics, and Diversity in STEM (LEADS) consortium, and a trustee of Mobility Unlimited Technology Worldwide. She is a mentor in the Digital Directors Network and the Women Cyber Governance Collaborative. Farmer actively engages in the World Economic Forum, contributing thought partnership to the materials, infrastructure, and energy platform.
Ernest Smiley‘s trailblazing career includes more than two decades integrating computer systems for the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, the Intelligence Community, defense department health systems, and commercial organizations. He is the former chief data scientist for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Other assignments include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.), Department of Energy, General Dynamics, Sprint, and Lockheed Martin. As chief data scientist and information security officer of Kingdom Capital, Ernest oversees data scientists who perform statistical data analysis, ensure data quality, and develop tracking and reporting systems to determine the effectiveness of models, rules, and other risk initiatives and programs. He is also the founder and C.E.O. of Georgetown Analytics which focuses on data science, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, talent management, and healthcare ecosystem opportunities throughout the United States. In addition to a master’s degree in technology management, an M.B.A., and a graduate certificate in data science from Georgetown University, he also holds several certifications in data privacy, risk and information systems control, and information security.
Mark Thomas is the director of Raytheon Engineering Labs. He is responsible for test activities conducted by 130 people and manages more than 600 engineering labs with a $41 million budget. Before this, he served as an associate director for lateral test capabilities, a senior compliance lead, and a director of industrial engineering. A Hughes Aircraft Fellowship recipient earlier in his career, he also worked for Boeing Satellite Systems and General Motors. More recently, Thomas has mentored over 200 Raytheon personnel and trained high school students through the Verbum Dei High School-Raytheon partnership. He is a co-developer of the paper Vehicle Project, where students design and fabricate vehicles. More than 300 high school students participated in the project. Thomas is the co-author of a book on Algebra used for multiple college summer bridge programs. He has been honored with a Testimonial Resolution from the Detroit City Council, a Testimonial Resolution from the City of South Bend in Indiana, and several internal honors, including the 2019 Raytheon Black Network Martin Luther King Jr. “Keeping the Dream Alive” award, the Raytheon President’s Award, and Raytheon Mentor of the Year Award.
Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D., is president of the University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC). She began her career in 1992 by joining the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps before retiring in 2020 with the rank of Rear Admiral Upper Half. Before HSC, Dr. Trent-Adams served as the principal deputy assistant secretary for health, covering the full range of public health activities within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. As a clinician and administrator, she has directly impacted building systems of care to improve public health for marginalized populations. Dr. Trent-Adams continued this work during her time as the Deputy Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. In 2017, Dr. Trent-Adams was awarded the International Red Cross Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international honor bestowed upon a nurse. She was also awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for her leadership during the Commissioned Corps response to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa and the Surgeon General’s Medallion for service as acting Surgeon General from April 2017 to September 2017.