US Black Engineer & IT Volume 45 Number 3

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Amending representation in public health Cheryl Campbell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration Department of Health and Human Services


How Green jobs and careers are saving the planet Two GM engineers are revolutionizing the EV future USBE&IT Internship Issue 2021

Top students recap their pandemic year

Only here can I work on Marine One on Day One. My first project at Lockheed Martin was managing the cabin modernization of the presidential helicopter, Marine One. This was a no-fail mission: safely transport the President of the United States. To this day, as I reflect on the magnitude of that responsibility, I’m still humbled by leadership’s trust in me. Explore careers at


Senior Manager International Programs

We’re committed to driving and achieving real change — creating a tomorrow we can all be proud of, standing together as one. Jacobs’ Action Plan for Advancing Justice and Equality is about achieving true equality for all of our employees current and future, with a focus on empowering our Black employees to advance and achieve at Jacobs. It’s about doing our part as a global leader to educate and change the culture in our communities — reaching brighteyed future talent early to highlight and celebrate futures ripe with potential.


And, it’s an opportunity for our global community to get this right… once and for all.

To learn more about our openings (experienced, graduate, intern and co-op) please visit our Jacobs Early Careers page:

Find out more at or follow us @jacobsconnects

Supports the recruitment, development, and retention of Black talent




Cheryl Campbell, an assistant secretary for administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, talks about her career and the role at HHS

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Here is what HBCU campuses are doing to combat the global environmental crisis.


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People and Events.............. 6

Dorothy Jean Tillman II is one of the youngest environmental scientists in America. After earning an associate degree in psychology from a community college in Illinois at age 10, she received a Bachelor of Science from an online institution in New York when she was 12. In 2020, aged 14, she graduated with a master’s degree in environmental science and sustainability. “I hope that she continues to spread the message about sustainability science not only to her friends in Chicago but also around the world,” her professor told Unity College, which focuses on environmental studies in distance education programs. Seventy years ago, Booker Whatley was the sustainability star of his day. Though not quite as young as Tillman when he graduated from Alabama A&M University (AAMU) with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, Whatley was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned a special field operation—to manage a hydroponic farm that would provide safe, nutritious food for U.S. troops during the Korean War. Whatley was raised on a farm in Anniston, AL, the oldest of 12 children. It was this experience that inspired the scientist who interviewed him for his military assignment in Japan. After the war, Whatley earned a doctorate in horticulture and began his career at Tuskegee University. He was known for counseling farmers to pay close attention to their farm’s resources, namely: “the sun, air, rain, animals, people, and all the other physical resources within the immediate environment of every farm,” Whatley famously said. Upon retirement from AAMU, Whatley wrote for Mother Earth News, Organic Gardening magazine, and The New Farm magazine. His monthly newsletter is said to have reached about 20,000 subscribers around the world. After reading about this HBCU pioneer of sustainable agriculture in The Wall Street Journal, Domino’s Pizza’s founding president was so inspired that he called Whatley to ask him to develop a 100-acre corporate farm ecosystem at Domino’s World Headquarters in Michigan.

Recent promotions, breaking news on HBCU campuses, and major events happening in the STEM community.

One on One ........................ 8

General Motors (GM) is leading the way to an all-electric future. Charles Muse, the automaker’s “Most Promising Engineer” for 2021, tells us how innovation will get them there.

Education ...........................11

Do you struggle with taking tests? We have a few strategies that may help.

First Steps ......................... 12

COVID-19 changed the student experience forever. BEYA Scholars tell you about their pandemic year.

Corporate Life.................... 14

Learn how to tap into your creativity. Get tips on innovative ways to do that.

Career Voices .................... 17

Black leaders talk about the Amazon culture, leadership principles, career paths, diversity and inclusion, and innovation and technology.

Leading Voices...................34

• Tribute to the late Dr. Lashun Massey, final interview with CCG’s High-Tech Sunday • BJ Johnson: The Need for Equitable Clean Energy

Career Outlook..................39

Climate change is happening now. These environmental careers are in demand and help fight climate change.

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Tyrone D. Taborn Publisher and Chief Content Officer



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PEOPLE & EVENTS Compiled by Lango Deen

PROS ON THE MOVE The first EPA administrator to have graduated from a historically Black college and university

Michael S. Regan Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Michael S. Regan, a North Carolina A&T State University graduate, was sworn in as the United States Environmental Protection Agency administrator on March 11. He is the first Black man and the second person of color to lead the agency. Before his current role, he was secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, where he advanced environmental justice. In 2020, he secured an agreement with Duke Energy for the largest coal ash contamination cleanup in U.S. history. His department also addressed toxic chemicals per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that one company was dumping into the Cape Fear River, upstream of a significant source of drinking water.

Tapped to lead the Energy Department’s Office of Minority Economic Impact According to a recent White House announcement, Shalanda H. Baker is Top: Michael S. Regan Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency Bottom: Shalanda H. Baker Deputy director of the Office of Economic Impact, United States Department of Energy


USBE & Information Technology | CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE 2021

the nominee for director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact in the DOE. Currently, Baker is the deputy director for energy justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. In 2016, she received a fellowship to study energy policy and indigenous rights. Baker received her bachelor’s degree in science from the U.S. Air Force Academy and J.D. from Northeastern. She obtained her LLM at the University of Wisconsin School of Law. “Like one in three American households, 52.2 percent of Black American households, and 61.5 percent of Native American households, we used the oven to warm our apartment in Austin, TX, where I grew up,” Baker recently told senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Morehouse grad is America’s leading ‘atmospheric chemist, geoscientist, and mentor’ Dr. Vernon Morris joined Arizona State University as professor of chemistry and environmental sciences and director of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences at the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences in July 2020. Previously, he was director of atmospheric sciences at Howard University and director of the NOAA Cooperative Science Center in Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology. Under his guidance, 50 percent of the Black and 30 percent of Hispanic-American Ph.D.s in atmospheric sciences produced from 2006 to 2018 graduated from a program founded by Morris. More than 96 percent of the alumni work in federal agencies, the private sector, and academia. Morris has helped guide the success of federally funded research centers. His outreach and science education projects have

ON CAMPUS In April, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that Florida A&M University and Howard University received almost $400,000 each from the Office of Fossil Energy. FAMU was selected to support the work on integrating fossil fuels into hydrogen production. The historically Black college and university (HBCU) will develop tools to assist in adopting technologies for fossil energy-derived hydrogen. Howard is working on simulation methods for electromagnetic (EM) energy-assisted conversion from fossil fuel to hydrogen. The project will develop computational methods involving plasma physics, thermal and fluid dynamics, quantum chemistry, and designs for EM energy-assisted hydrogen generation from fossil fuels.

Dr. Vernon Morris Professor of chemistry and environmental sciences and director of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences at the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Arizona State University

reached 50,000 students worldwide. Among the most notable are the high school weather camps that he managed in Puerto Rico; Washington, D.C.; Mississippi; and Texas for 18 years and provided 800 students entry into career opportunities in atmospheric sciences. S

SAVE THEDATE BEYA STEM CONFERENCE DTX February 17-19, 2022 Washington, DC


Detroit, MI


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ONE ON ONE by Lango Deen

BEYA WINNERS ARE CHANGE AGENTS Two GM engineers are creating a future for employees, communities, customers, and the company and subsequently chairman, Mary Barra led a rethink of the corporation’s vision. They found purpose anchored in zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion. In short: electric transportation. “Producing vehicles is not a purpose; it’s an outcome,” Johnson explained. “We need to know why we are going to produce vehicles, and once you know, you can answer why certain technologies were going to be a part of your portfolio. And once you put zero emissions in and start doing the research and looking at what technologies are going to enable that to become true, you end up at electric vehicles.” Johnson said that although there are fuel cells, hydrogen, and natural gas, it became clear that electric battery technology would be the way for GM to pursue its mission of zero emissions.


n January 2021, Gerald Johnson, executive vice president for global manufacturing at General Motors (GM), was a guest on Career Communications Group’s High-Tech Sunday Podcast. Speaking about his role, Johnson, the 2021 Black Engineer of the Year, shared what it took to lead 130,000 people. His responsibility involves mapping a future for every worker loading steering wheel columns into vehicles on the assembly lines. Five years ago, GM came up with a plan to win the future for its employees, customers, and the communities in which they work. As chief executive 8

“We believe in the science of climate change, and we think our responsibility, now our mission and purpose, is to not just produce 3 million vehicles in the U.S. market or 6 million cars around the globe, but to do it in a way that has zero impact on the environment, on the Earth, and still give everyone the freedom that they love in their vehicles, and the style and functionality that cars have come to mean and provide for us in our lives.” Johnson also said GM’s Factory Zero connects to the mission of zerozero-zero and the company’s history. When GM began operations in Flint, MI, Factory One was the first factory, now regarded as a historical site. When GM decided it would launch an electric vehicle (EV) future in 20132014, the company selected the Detroit Hamtramck facility and renamed it Factory Zero. “It’s representative of a new company

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Five years ago, GM came up with a plan to win the future for its employees, customers, and the communities they work. As chief executive and subsequently chairman, Mary Barra led a rethink of the corporation’s vision. They found purpose anchored in zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion. In short: electric transportation. being born out of a new facility, connected to a mission that has three zeroes attached to it,” Johnson explained. “That will define what we do and invest in for decades to come. And would also connect people to the mission that we call: Zero crashes, saving lives, zero emissions, saving the planet, zero congestion, saving our precious commodity time,” Johnson said.

Johnson described the Hummer EV as a “mind-blowing vehicle of both capability and beauty,” evidenced by the fact that the first year’s production had already been sold in January.

go safer, faster, and more efficiently. Zero emissions working on all-electric platforms means these vehicles do not have a carbon footprint like our typical emission engines do,” he said.

Charles Muse, who won the 2021 Most Promising Engineer Award, is helping GM revolutionize the future with electric trucks. Muse is currently a program engineering manager, responsible for battery-electric truck programs’ design, development, and launch.

Before his current assignment, Muse was a design release engineer leading the design of GM’s full-size truck and SUV air induction systems. Before this role, Muse was the engineering operation supervisor of GM’s Wind Tunnel Test Facility. Prior, Muse earned a name as the lead aerodynamicist for GM crossover platform vehicles. In this role, he executed aerodynamics development, testing, and design of crossover vehicles, most notably the Chevrolet Blazer, Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, and Cadillac XT5.

Previously, he worked on the Cruise Origin, a future autonomous ridesharing vehicle, and a project involving GM, Honda, and Cruise. His responsibilities included being an integration lead on engineering, autonomous vehicle technologies, an authority in design and purchasing forums. Muse also led two technologies needed to execute autonomous vehicles while managing a multimilliondollar budget. “We at General Motors recognize that we can’t sustain forever on fossil fuels,” Muse said on High-Tech Sunday in June 2021. “We can’t continue to pollute the Earth. Climate change is real. And we as an organization have an obligation to make this Earth a better place for generations to come. Being the leader in the automotive industry, we will fulfill that obligation with the revolution that is electric vehicles. If you live in the United States, you know that GM’s bread and butter are trucks and SUVs. So, we can now marry our vision of zero-zero-zero with our electric trucks that customers love,” he said. “Zero crashes in autonomous vehicles don’t drive distracted. It knows exactly how to move,” Muse explained.” Zero congestion is when you have vehicles on the road and know where they need to go. You get where you want to

“I was a car guy in school,” said Muse. “When I got my first car, I did everything I could to put a sound system in it, swapped out the wheels and air induction systems, breaking it and putting it back together again as any kid would do,” recalled Muse. During high school, Muse’s passion was basketball. He also served as a batboy for the Chicago White Sox and fell in love with flight at an aviation summer camp. While at Ohio State University, Muse attended a career fair, and General Motors offered what he considered a dream internship: serving as a test engineer driving cars at a proving ground. Upon graduation, Muse got a full-time offer from GM to work as an aerodynamicist—marrying his love for aviation, aerodynamics, aeronautics, and engineering with his inherent passion for cars.

Left: Gerald Johnson, executive vice president, global manufacturing, General Motors Above: Charles Muse, program engineering manager, General Motors

“GM is going to succeed where others have failed,” Muse said on High-tech Sunday. We’re going to protect our planet, we’re going to protect our people, and revolutionize technology in the way we move.” S

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BRING YOUR A-GAME: Using Effective Strategies to Strengthen Your Test-Taking Skills


est taking is a necessary component of education. It is hard to earn a degree without passing exams. Of course, not every student is comfortable in test-taking environments. Some students sweat with anxiety when they hear the word quiz. Other students perform well on writing assignments and in labs but buckle under the pressure of standardized tests. Candace Cox-Wimberly is a test-taking expert. As the CEO of I Am a Genius, formerly Ingenuity College Preparatory Institute, she coaches middle, high school, and college students in the art of exam preparation. According to Cox-Wimberly, successful test preparation starts long before exam day. She says that college students should make a habit of reviewing their course notes at a specific time every week throughout the semester. “Treat studying like a class and stick to a schedule,” she says. “If you have class on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., you should block out time to review your notes. That way, you always get your study time in, and you’re always on your A-game.” She emphasizes that, for this technique to be effective, students must study in a way that suits their learning style. “Different learning styles work for different people,” she says. “You might be a visual learner or an auditory learner, or maybe your ideal learning situation involves technology or writing. Whatever the case, learn your style so that you can be more effective at studying.” As Cox-Wimberly points out, identifying one’s learning style helps students take more effective notes—and strong notes are crucial to a solid study regimen. “If you know you’re an audio learner, you can record your professor’s lectures

and listen back to them later,” she says. “Identifying how you learn best is going to help you perform better.” She advises students to be strategic about where they study, too, whether it is at home, in the library, or somewhere else. “Location is key, just like in real estate,” she says, smiling. “Recognize where you do your best learning, where you can focus best, and study there.” The most important factor, according to Cox-Wimberly, is having a place to study that is free of distraction. “Identify what distracts you, and tell yourself, ‘When I’m studying, I’m going to make sure I’m not interrupted,’” she says. “Remember that this is your time to study and review your notes.” However, she suggests studying in groups with classmates from time to time, especially before exams. Specifically, she recommends reviewing the course information by “teaching” each other the information. “Take turns being the ‘professor’ and go through the notes together,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to recap the information while seeing it through a different lens.”

This, Cox-Wimberly says, is one of the best ways for students to make sure they truly understand the course material. “Studying isn’t about memorizing information; it’s about retaining it,” she explains. “You should know it well enough to be able to teach it.” Most importantly, she stresses that rest is essential to healthy study habits and effective test taking. Obviously, students should get plenty of sleep the night before the exam. But, as Cox-Wimberly teaches us, test preparation happens over long periods of time. Students should stick to a regular sleep schedule, getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night throughout the semester. After all, it takes a rested brain to process and store new information. “You need time to recharge,” she says. “If you don’t charge your phone, it’s eventually going to zap out. You have to treat your body the same way. You need time to recharge your brain, to let it reposition and get ready for the next day.” S

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FIRST STEPS by Gale Horton Gay

LESSONS LEARNED FROM SURVIVING A PANDEMIC The COVID-19 pandemic caused disruption in the lives of almost everyone including college students. From academics to living arrangements to social engagement, college students have had their lives upended in a myriad of ways. However, there have also been lessons learned, and many have survived the experience with insight and newfound strength. Joy Watson Joy Watson is a junior at Virginia State University majoring in mechanical engineering technology and mathematics. She was in her freshman spring semester when the pandemic hit the United States and her routine college experience was cut short. “I was sent home, from VA to NY,” said Watson via email. “I could no longer hang out with my school family and wasn’t allowed to hang out with friends 12

back home either. The pandemic threw off my balance between my academics and social life. All I had for a while was just school.”

“This experience has taught me that resilience and adaptability are vital to success,” she said. “I’ve learned that I need to prioritize my mental health.”

Watson said at first, she was worried about school because everything would be different. “However, after the first week, I was pretty well adjusted,” she said. “The main difference/challenge was learning to keep myself focused on class and homework when I needed to be.”

Aubri Bowman

Despite the shutdown of practically everything and every place and having to transition to a new virtual world, Watson still completed two research projects and an internship with a federal agency during the past year and a half. “I participated in two research projects last summer, one at Virginia Commonwealth University and the other at Virginia State University,” she said. “Both were based on the mathematical modeling of infectious diseases. I worked from home and virtually connected with mentors and my teammates. This spring, I interned for the Federal Aviation Administration. I supported the team that is planning a software migration. I also assisted in creating employee onboarding materials.” Watson secured one internship by applying directly on the Virginia Commonwealth University internship website. “At Virginia State University, one of my professors asked me if I’d like to help them conduct some research. I applied online through a contractor’s website to secure the Federal Aviation Administration internship.” Watson, who is considering a career as a college professor or working for a federal agency, said she’s learned valuable lessons from making major adjustments to her life due to the pandemic.

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Aubri Bowman is a junior at Alabama A&M University majoring in computer science with a concentration in cybersecurity. Bowman said the pandemic had a profound effect on her academically and personally. “I am a visual and kinesthetic learner, so it became extremely difficult to grasp concepts, especially in classes that focused on math and science,” she said. “I had to force myself to become an auditory learner, which is still a struggle for me. Personally, my anxiety and depression skyrocketed mainly due to the fact that I am a very social person, so being forced to stay inside and limiting contact with others turned my world upside down. I found that I was keeping to myself and becoming unmotivated.” Bowman did not let the challenges of COVID-19 squelch in her pursuit of opportunities to gain knowledge and experience through interning. “I completed my internship last summer with the Department of Defense as a DOD HBCU/Minority Institution (MI) student researcher. It was based in Huntsville, AL, but was completed in a virtual environment. It wasn’t what I imagined myself doing for my first college internship, but I am extremely grateful because it was an amazing learning experience. I was able to work with another student from Navajo Tech in which we were tasked in writing a research paper about the pros and cons of artificial intelligence in simulation training.” She credits Carla Draper Holloway, assistant director of the honors program

“Every STEM major

at Alabama A&M University, with helping her secure the internship. “Interning in a virtual environment came with its challenges, but it did not limit my experience in the program. I cannot compare it to other internship opportunities since this was my first one, but I believe the DOD and other supporting organizations did an amazing job of making it interactive and resourceful.” Bowman, who has her sights set on becoming a software developer or data analyst, found herself empowered by the challenges of studying and interning during the health crisis. “At the end of the experience, I was able to successfully write a professional research [paper],” she said. “I used those skills in the following academic school year and received excellent scores on those papers. I also was able to improve my time management skills, especially since I was working with people in other time zones.”

Kwaneitra Powers Kwaneitra Powers graduated from the Alabama A&M University in spring 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in construction management.

Powers juggles numerous responsibilities—she is a full-time real estate agent, new business owner, single mother, and was taking 18 credit hours while in school. “It definitely gave me a chance to reset,” she said of the pandemic. “There is one thing in this world that does not discriminate, and that is LIFE. It happens to everyone. During the pandemic reset, I realized that it was okay to take a breath and breathe. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone but myself.” During spring 2021, Powers interned at Turner Construction as a project engineer on site. She secured the internship through a virtual career fair. She said her goal is to become a commercial developer. One of the most valuable lessons Powers learned from the pandemic was maximizing her time. She said she now gets up at 4:30 a.m. to get the most out of her day. “I am hoping the fall 2020 semester will not have to be done online because I gain a greater comprehension of the material introduced in my classes when conversing with instructors face to face,” she said. S

She describes herself as a hands-on learner who likes to ask questions and “be in the moment in class” and said she struggled with virtual learning. “Trying to protect my 4.0 GPA was definitely a challenge,” said Powers via email. “I had to accept that perfection is not obtainable. It’s okay to not be perfect, just be my best. I made my first B, and I was devastated… Personally, I got to know myself a little bit better.” has more great stories for you to read!

From top to bottom: Joy Watson, Aubri Bowman, and Kwaneitra Powers

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CORPORATE LIFE by Dr. Andrew Lakin

SCIENCE AND CREATIVITY STEM professionals are not always thought of as creative people. A Google search for the word “creative” is likely to return images of smock-wearing artists covered in paint, not computer programmers or chemists.


ut science and technology are creative fields. After all, scientists and engineers are the people who build and shape the world we live in—what could be a more creative endeavor? As part of the 2021 Global Competitiveness Conference, BEYA sat down with three STEM professionals for a panel discussion. Moderated by David Williams, assistant vice president for North Carolina A&T’s automation department, the conversation covered a range of topics, from why creativity is a valuable skill to how scientists and engineers can be more creative in their day-to-day work.


automation, and collective integration,” he says. “You have to ask yourself whether you’re going to drive that change or be driven by it.”

Daniel Wang of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Federal Labs program says that creative employees are more valuable than ever, as they help organizations adapt to the rapid pace of technological innovation.

He emphasizes that creativity is a human trait that cannot truly be automated, and thus, will be a commodity in years to come. “A lot of things are going to be automated and digitized,” he says, “but anything that can’t be, like creativity, integrity, intuition, ethics…is going to become increasingly more valuable.”

“We’re part of a hurricane of change fueled by digitization, augmentation,

Lt. Col. Marcus Bynum, professor of military science at Saint Augustine’s

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University, trains his students to leverage their creative thinking skills toward military developments. “(We train) subject matter experts (who) are devoted to focusing on science, automation, and finding ways to improve or integrate those findings into our everyday activities in the military,” he explains. Bynum points out that creative thinking skills have always been valuable—even necessary—in the armed forces. “We’ve always lived in an environment of constant change,” he says, referring to the military. “Many times, we’re

“Creativity is a human trait that cannot truly be automated, and thus, will be a commodity in years to come. A lot of things are going to be automated and digitized,” he says, “but anything that can’t be, like creativity, integrity, intuition, ethics…is going to become increasingly more valuable.” placed in environments and conditions in which we’re constantly having to evaluate and change to meet the mission’s goals. [Creative] is what we train our individuals to be.” Of course, the traits Bynum describes are equally as valuable in the private sector, where adaptability and innovation are ever-present. As Mariyah Saifuddin, president of Innovative Solution Partners, says, “Business owners never have a ‘normal.’ I get worried when things feel normal and calm because I see that as a sign the market is getting used to what

- Daniel Wang, Central intelligence Agency’s Federal Labs program

you’re doing. You always have to be thinking about what’s next and what’s coming down the line.” Saifuddin explains how, for her, there is no better illustration of the value of creative thinking skills than the COVIDrelated events of 2020 and 2021. “For years, we serviced large organizations,” she says about her own company’s experience during the pandemic. “But most of our clients

shut down, and we were forced to think about what we were good at and where else we could be of service. That led us down a different path into this new market of small and medium-sized businesses.” Saifuddin stresses that her network and friendships are crucial to her creativity and innovative thinking, a point Wang and Bynum nod along with in agreement. In a personal anecdote, she describes a friend of hers who, although working in a completely unrelated field, helps to inspire her. “When I speak to her about what I’m doing in business, she always says something that helps me think more creatively,” Saifuddin says. “She gets me thinking about how I work with my customers and the kinds of results I’m giving them. It just gives me a whole different view of how I’m doing things.” According to Saifuddin, these types of conversations are the key to overcoming feelings of fear or hesitation. After all, as Williams points out, scientists and engineers are often plagued with a sense of reluctance when they are “trying to do something new and don’t know what the other end of the process is going to look like.” To work past that sense of reluctance and “open the doors to creativity,” Saifuddin recommends collaborations, partnerships, and an acceptance that the future is unknown. “Surround yourself with people as forward-thinking as yourself, who are okay with change and being uncomfortable,” she says. “Because, when we talk about creativity and innovation and taking that on, you have to be fearless and acknowledge that it’s okay to be scared or worried or all of the above.” S

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CAREER VOICES by Christopher Zacher



magine yourself in a corporate role for Amazon. What is the average day like in the world’s most valuable Internet company, and the second-largest private employer in the U.S.? What is the environment like? How diverse and inclusive are the teams? At the 2021 BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference, six Amazon leaders convened over a Zoom call to answer these questions and more. One of the main topics was how the leaders stay abreast of technology in a company known for never-ending innovation. “You need a really strong foundation to stay up-to-date with technology trends, and you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” says Dawit Bereket, senior solutions architect manager. “We do a lot of just-in-time learning, where you learn what you need to know to support your customer. If you go to a customer meeting and something pops up that you’re not an expert in…you go find the experts and spend a half-hour or half a day learning to give them what they need.” Drew Jelani, a software development engineer, says that, unlike many other companies, Amazon gives its developers freedom in how they choose to solve problems, leaving room for creativity and innovation. “If I as an engineer have a particular library or system that I think is useful for a given problem…and the team agrees it’s good to use, then we use it,” he says. “Leaning into ownership at the team and org level is critical for us to stay ahead of the curve.” Patrick Cook, senior technical program manager, agrees that Amazon’s openness to ideas and the ownership it imparts on its employees is crucial to innovation. He adds that this allows the company to always provide the best solutions for the customer.

“We have innovation days where everyone brings ideas in. We write them down, build solutions together, and rank the results based on customer need,” he says of his department. “So, it’s always a combination of involving everybody, putting things into practice, and prioritizing them in a way that focuses on the customer.” Jameka Pankey, a senior business partner of inclusion, diversity, and equity (IDE), points out that the diversity of Amazon’s leadership helps the company to build the best and most innovative solutions for its customers. “This is a company that truly believes in IDE,” she says, discussing how she feels comfortable to act and speak naturally in her job. “I work for a company that allows me to be my true self. You can’t say you’re a customer-obsessed company if I can’t be myself because I’m your customer.” Alex Morrison, senior customer solutions leader who prefers they/ them pronouns, agrees, emphasizing the importance of a diverse workforce. “Expanded creativity, solving problems, increased profitability, and productivity… it all comes from diversity,” they say.

we’ll always be the victim in the biases race.” Pankey agrees, encouraging early-career professionals from underrepresented groups to seek employment with a company that supports their interests and wants to see them thrive. “You’re in a good space right now because corporate America is trying to get woke,” she says, offering advice on choosing a company to work for. “[When applying for jobs], ask yourself, ‘Is this a place where I will feel valued? Is it a place where I can grow and develop? Is it a place where I can challenge upward when I don’t see what should be?” For her, that’s Amazon. Pointing to a framed poster of Spike Lee’s character Radio Raheem raising his fist, she says passionately, “See that? That says Do the Right Thing. I work for a company that allows me to have that in my office, and they believe in it.” S

“Being at AWS [Amazon Web Services] has allowed me to see some of my dreams come true,” they say, citing a research paper they recently coauthored and published on the topic of gender pronoun biases in artificial intelligence and machine learning. “AI and ML are where I want to spend the rest of my career. Biases are real, and if we don’t have our voices in the room, we’re never going to be represented, and

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by Lango Deen

Bridging the Gap BETWEEN PUBLIC HEALTH AND COMMUNITIES OF COLOR The first woman of color sworn in as sssistant secretary for administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


uring the summer of 2021, Ms. Cheryl Campbell gave a virtual interview to US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine. Soon after she was sworn in as the assistant secretary for administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the conversation ranged from tackling the COVID-19 public health crisis, support for vulnerable populations to the significance of working with thousands of HHS career officials throughout the agency. Prior to her appointment, Campbell served in an acting role where she laid the groundwork for 21st-century HHS operations. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration (ASA) is responsible 18

for delivering support services for HHS, including the provisioning and management of human resources, technology, facilities, acquisitions, employee safety, security, labor relations, equal employment opportunity, diversity, and inclusion. Campbell is the first person with leadership experience at each HHS operating division and staff division to serve in the role. She is also the first female and first person of color to serve in the role. An experienced executive who has worked in the private sector, Campbell has over 30 years of profit-driven results, annual budget planning, quarterly budget and forecast performance, operations, human capital acquisition and retention, P&L management, and strategic planning.

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In addition, Campbell is the founder and past CEO of the EagleForce Warrior Foundation, which supports wounded, ill, and injured military service members and their extended families as they recover in the Department of Defense’s critical care facilities. Campbell is a nationally recognized executive in health IT; she has been named a “Healthcare IT Game Changer” by ExecutiveBiz. In addition, FEDSCOOP recognized her as one of D.C.’s Top 50 most influential women in technology. In addition, Poets & Quants named Campbell one of the world’s Top 50 Global Executive MBAs. Campbell earned a dual global executive M.B.A. from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and ESADE Business &

Cheryl Campbell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration

Law School. She also holds a B.S. in information systems management from the University of Maryland and is the wife of Stanley Campbell and mother of three sons. What does the assistant secretary of administration do? The assistant secretary of administration supports 20 operating divisions and 11 staff divisions, oversees over 87,000 HHS employees—managing labor union engagement, implementing equal rights, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and billions of dollars in acquisitions. In addition, this role is responsible for setting the information technology direction, cybersecurity strategy and implementation for HHS. So, this is a very

engaging, broad role across government. You are the first female assistant secretary of administration and the first person of color to serve as the assistant secretary of administration. What does this appointment in 2021 mean to you, and what does it mean for professionals or students who are historically underrepresented in top federal jobs—IT jobs in particular? This appointment in 2021 speaks to the commitment of the Biden-Harris Administration to build a leadership team that represents all of America. I am honored to serve with President Joe Biden, a man of the people for all, and with Vice President Kamala Harris, the

first woman of color vice president. I am also honored to serve under the leadership of Secretary Xavier Becerra, the first Latino secretary of HHS, and Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm. This appointment affords me the opportunity to be a public servant, to bring years of private industry operation, budget execution, acquisition oversight, human capital knowledge, and implementation of information management systems to advance the HHS mission. For most of my 30-plusyear career, I’ve been the first woman and or woman of color to hold a specific technical or managerial position. As a result, I carry a level of responsibility and resolve to represent women and women of color to the best of my

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ability by bringing my expertise to bear, presenting my best self, and continuing to learn about the latest and greatest developments in the field. For students who are historically underrepresented in top federal jobs, IT jobs in particular, this appointment is proof this is achievable. The glass ceiling is shattered, and the genie is out of the bottle. The next generation of technologists, next generation of scientists, next generation of leaders must understand that where I am is a steppingstone to where they could go. It is possible to achieve, no matter where you start. It is possible to be successful if you hone your craft and do the homework. Serving in this role at a time when our country is experiencing heightened racial tensions, broadened health disparities, and a global pandemic drives my commitment to demonstrate to young people interested in careers in science, technology, engineering, and management the importance of staying the course and not being deterred by obstacles or detractors. You have supported Health and Human Services (HHS) operating divisions throughout your career. As the assistant secretary of administration, the office you lead supports these operating divisions during a pandemic. What has that been like? How has the pandemic changed your work? It is impressive and insightful to witness firsthand the technology, science, cybersecurity, infrastructure, business 20

processes, innovation, and human capital driving HHS operations during the pandemic—as well as the commitment and dedication of HHS civil servants working to improve the health and wellbeing of the American people.

be the next generation of technology entrepreneurs and leaders. A career in technology is rarely dull and at the same time provides a career of stability and economic gains. The career options and success paths are endless.

As a result of the pandemic, we are experiencing a transformation of the workplace—a transformation that would not be possible without technology, in particular technology that allows for virtual collaboration. The federal government is the largest employer in the nation, and it had to turn on a dime to reposition civil servants from federal facilities to their home residences. The future of the workplace will likely mean many employers, including the federal government, will have to embrace a hybrid work setting, one where employees work both in-person and remotely.

My advice is to develop your brand with an inside/outside strategy. From an inside perspective, you need to approach the environment you are working in four quadrants: 1.) understand the current job and become an expert, 2.) understand what values drive promotion within the organization, 3.) identify and connect with decision-makers, and 4.) improve skill gaps. One adjacent recommendation is to identify an inside advocate who can elevate you when salary increases, bonuses, and promotions are discussed is important. From an outside perspective, you need to join technical, business, and/or education associations, be mindful of your social media branding, and find external mentor(s).

You are a nationally recognized health IT leader. You have been named a “Healthcare IT Game Changer,” and you were recognized as one of Washington, D.C.’s most influential women in technology. What advice would you give young people, young women and men of color, who aspire to be as successful as you have been in the field? A career in technology, operations, and management is rewarding, exciting, innovative, and impactful. With the continuous rapid transformation and evolution of technology, it provides young people with the opportunity to push the envelope of innovation, tap into the analytic and creative cortex, to

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Before earning an M.B.A,, you earned a bachelor’s degree in information systems (IS) management from the University of Maryland. What about the field interested you? Technology is one of my first loves. Ask me something about technology and my eyes light up. I get excited. From my first software development class, technology kept me up late at night, and got me up early in the morning to check my computer run. Yes, this was before desktops/laptops. As a native Marylander, I was fortunate to learn the University of Maryland had

a phenomenal information systems management program. The reason I went into the field goes back to what each word represents—information, management, and systems is at the heart of everything we do. If you think about information, everything we do both physical, social, and emotional is based on intelligence tied to information. If you think about management, there’s always a need to manage the data, systems, people, processes, and organizations etc. And finally, if you think about systems, there’s always a need to ensure the system results in cost-effective output and is secure from external threats. The information systems management field afforded me the flexibility to operate in many aspects of computer science and technology. I could be a computer engineer, a programmer, information security analyst, management analyst, systems architect, and more. Information systems management continues to be an excellent major for many undergraduate students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a job growth at 11 percent in computer and information technology occupations for the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations. One thing to keep in mind is that as we build our career, it is important to invest in the education and training that makes us most marketable. Earning my dual M.B.A. is one example of how I’ve invested in myself in that regard. How has IT/health IT changed since you first entered the field? Where do you see the field in five years? In the earlier years of technology, it was more about setting up systems and databases, and moving from large mainframe systems to mid-tier solutions, from desktops to laptops, and so forth. Now, it’s about moving forward with artificial intelligence, robotics, driverless vehicles, smart cities, smart homes, blockchain, and 5G—and, as we have seen during the pandemic, the healthcare industry will continue to benefit. Over the next five years, technology will improve value-based care, drug development, personalized medicine, clinical trials, medical device development, diagnosis. A win-win for not only for the healthcare industry

but patients. Though we’ve seen the healthcare industry’s method of care change over the last year—with telehealth visits and remote patient monitoring becoming much more commonplace—we are at the tip of iceberg when it comes to how technology will continue to impact the industry.

“The beauty of HHS’s mission is that it is about the health and well-being of the American people, so no matter what project, no matter how big or small, you will have an impact on the quality of life in our society. This is so critical for our country’s success.” A team of psychology researchers found that the more a discipline is perceived to demand raw talent or “brilliance” to excel, the more women and early-career academics feel like “imposters.” That relationship is even stronger among women of color, who continue to be underrepresented in various fields. When you are the only woman and person of color in a room, sometimes you can experience imposter syndrome or stereotype threat. How have you dealt with this? If so, how do you overcome it? Imposter syndrome and stereotype threat are inward feelings based on someone’s outward perception of you. To overcome them, you must have confidence in who you are and what you’re capable of—as well as willingness to step outside your comfort zone and accept new challenges.

Early in my career, I worked with retired military officers and observed that whether they wore the uniform or not, they commanded the room. Military officers enter a room with a sense of presence that makes it clear that they are charge. I learned I had to command the room I was in similarly and embrace standing out because no one in the room looked like me. Every time someone said “You got the job because you were at the right place at the right time” or “You got the promotion because you are a minority,” I rejected it and said, “You mean I got the position because I earned it.” These statements, if not corrected, can feed into imposter syndrome and stereotype threat. By changing the narrative, I managed to overcome both. I always operate from the presence of mind that a person doesn’t know who you are until you tell them. It was my personal mission to make sure people understood the value I brought to the table and that when I spoke, people listened. Most successful people in public life talk about mentors they have had along the way. Mentors in their early years, mentors during college, or mentors as early-career professionals. Tell us about a mentor you have had and the impact that the person has had on you. I meet a mentor every day. My mentor could be the guard I meet in the morning. My mentor could be an industry expert. My mentor could be a supervisor, peer, or subordinate. I’ve had many mentors in my career, so it’s hard to focus on one. But there were pivotal mentors that shaped my career. One of the reasons I gravitated to software programming early in my career was because I was an introvert and felt more comfortable working behind the computer screen and I didn’t have to interact with many people. One mentor saw in me what I didn’t see in myself at the time. He encouraged me to move from software programming to business development. It turned out that moving to business development was one the best decisions I made in my career because I was able to expand my professional and interpersonal skills by working with clients, technical experts,

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and next-level leaders in the areas of contracting, budgeting, and project management. Another mentor was a female executive who offered me an opportunity to move into management. She explained there were few women in management roles and if I was successful in managing profit and loss, programs, and operations, then my career would be much more rewarding. She was right. So, my advice to the next generation is say yes more often and say yes to the stretch opportunities. In every culture in the world, parents are regarded as the first teachers for their children. What lessons did you learn from your parents? My parents were part of the greatest generation that ever lived, and they taught me a lot. My parents taught me the importance of having a strong sense of self-worth. My parents taught me the importance of having family and community, faith in god, and operating with integrity. My parents taught me the power of partnership in marriage and in business, and the importance of money management, having a nest , and making smart investments. They also taught me that everyone has value. It doesn’t matter one’s economic status or educational background. Every single person has value. So, many aspects of who I am and what I am about reflect that truth. I’m a first-generation college graduate, and my parents placed significant value on education. They also gave me the freedom to make unconventional choices such as pursuing a career in information technology, which for a woman at the time wasn’t as conventional as it is today. They had no concept of information technology, but they never said no. My parents gave me the stability to try new things and know that I had family support around me. Believe it or not, my father taught me auto mechanics, how a car operates, the engine components, fuses, how to check the oil, how to change the tire. My parents wanted their children, male or female, to be self-reliant.

construction. When he returned home, he married my mother and became an entrepreneur by starting a construction company. Talk about entrepreneurship at its best! Here is a man who pursued his dream. He leveraged the construction skills he learned in the military and built a thriving small business. I tell that story because it is an example of knowing it doesn’t matter where you start in life; you must have the audacity to define your own path to success and happiness. Tell us about a project you are excited to work on in your new role. The beauty of HHS’s mission is that it is about the health and well-being of the American people, so no matter what project, no matter how big or small, you will have an impact on the quality of life in our society. This is so critical for our country’s success. There are many projects that I am excited to work on in my new role— unaccompanied children at the border, Afghan refugee resettlement, the first government-wide volunteer deployment program, HHS telecommunication modernization program—but one specific project stands out: the 21st century workforce and workplace program, also known as our “return to workplace plan.” The program engages every element of the Assistant Secretary for Administration office. As part of the program, we are developing a return to workplace plan. This requires us to explore the hybrid work model of increased telework and remote work for HHS civil servants and implement safety protocols for workplace safety for employees,

contractors, and visitors. This also requires us to partner with 20-plus labor unions, evaluate positions across the department to see how they align with a hybrid work model, and assess budget and technology needs. At the center of this work is ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion across the workforce. Creating a work model that will support 87,000 civil servants in delivering on the HHS mission in this new normal created by the pandemic is very exciting. I, and the office I lead, are at the forefront of navigating new paradigm shifts in the workplace, and what comes with that is immense responsibility to workers as well as immense opportunity for innovation. This year, you are the Women of Color President’s Award recipient. I was hoping you could take me back to the moment you found out you were getting the award. What does this award mean to you? When I am at work, I am focused on the job at hand. I was at work when the Women of Color President’s Award recipient announcement was made, and it stopped me in my tracks. I take great responsibility to represent women and women of color to the best of my ability, and to be recognized among an amazing pool of accomplished women, and by the African-American community—the community of my heritage—is both humbling and joyful. Also, as a wife and mother of three sons who has for years juggled work and home, this award has made the many struggles and sacrifices that have come with that juggling act all the more worth it. S

My father was a solider in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. He entered the military as an 18-yearold with a background in farming and a 5th grade education. While with the Army Corps of Engineers, he learned 22

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OST AMERICANS (62 percent) say climate change affects their local community, according to Pew Research. Most of the groups surveyed in the American Trends Panel also said significant impacts include floods and storms (70 percent), harm to wildlife and their habitats (69 percent), damage to forests and plant life (67 percent), or droughts and water shortages (64 percent). More frequent wildfires and rising sea levels eroding beaches and shorelines were also cited by equal percentages (56 percent of those asked) as significant impacts on their local communities. Three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) agree that priority should be given to wind and solar power and hydrogen technology rather than increasing the production of fossil fuels. In addition, large shares of the public (72 percent) said they use fewer plastic bags, straws, and cups or reduce their water consumption (68 percent) to help the environment. About half (51 percent) of Americans say they are driving less or using carpools, while one in four Americans said they try to live in ways that protect the environment. HOW HBCUS ARE PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT In 2018, researchers at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to investigate the impact of particles on

cloud formation. The project probed the carbon dioxide, shook the world. A study properties of particles in emissions and that addressed toxic waste sites was what happens when the particles meet also published in Florida. In response, mineral dust from the Sahara, the largest the Center for Environmental Equity hot desert in the world. The project and Justice was established in the was designed to enhance research in School of the Environment (SOE) at atmospheric sciences at historically Florida Agricultural and Mechanical Black colleges and universities. HBCU University (FAMU). researchers collaborated with Colorado State Students from FAMU University, a leading monitored water atmospheric science institution, to model quality in correlation health impacts and to oyster ranching. collect samples aboard maritime research platforms on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ships. “Household pollution from biomass burning contributes to nearly 3 million premature deaths per year,” said Google Scholar and professor Solomon Bililign, the principal research investigator at N. C. A&T. “Having a better understanding of the health impacts of pollution due to biomass burning should help improve household burning conditions in the developing world.” In 1981, “Warming Warning,” a documentary on the effect of pollution of the atmosphere with USBE & Information Technology | CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE 2021


FAMU School of the Environment

S. Keith Hargrove, academic dean of the College of Engineering at Tennessee State University. “Environmental science is the area of biological, chemistry, and physical sciences to study the environment and its impact on humans and other living species. It involves examining natural resources such as water, air, soil, and the Earth with respect to the interactions of animals and quality of life,” he explained. “Environmental engineering is an application of science (environmental) to create industrial policies, operations, technology, and infrastructure to provide a more inhabitable and safer environment for a better quality of life. The degree programs, for both majors, centers on the above concepts and in practice.” Raghava R. Kommalapati, Ph.D., is the director of the NSF-funded CREST Center for Energy & Environmental Sustainability at Prairie View A&M University. He is also a professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering in the Roy G. Perry College of Engineering at Prairie View A&M. Below are excerpts from a conversation with US Black Engineer magazine this summer.

“Our years of active research engagements through funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has kept us in the forefront of training generations of students in ecosystem characterization, ecological processes, forecasting and modeling, and human dimensions,” says Victor Ibeanusi, Ph.D., dean of the School of the Environment. “Every season, we take our undergraduate students at the School of the Environment on a boat trip to Apalachicola Bay and Spring Creek, where we monitor water quality in correlation to oyster ranching to study the effects of the dwindling freshwater to the bay and climate change impacts to 26

oyster ranching.” ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE VS. ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of environmental engineers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, the employment of environmental scientists and specialists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. “These fields are becoming more popular with the concern of the impact of climate change and corporate responsibility to the environment,” said

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“We have been offering courses in environmental engineering for more than two decades, but the focus recently has somewhat moved towards environmental sustainability. Of course, everything that we do in life can be done more sustainably. The focus of our research center is related to environmental sustainability in the broader field of energy. In other words, I focus on sustainability as it relates to energy production, and it includes both fossil fuels and renewable energy. Everything we do in the center has a focus on sustainability. We have mainly three research thrust areas. Some folks are working on converting biomass into ethanol, which is added to gasoline. But in our current phase, we are looking at converting biomass (like energy crops) into hydrocarbon fuels that we can directly put into the car. You do not need to mix it up with gasoline. We are producing hydrocarbon fuel that goes into the vehicle directly.

Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Reearch Laboratory

“The second focus in our center is wind energy, both onshore, which was what we did in our Phase I. In Phase II, we are focused more on offshore wind energy. We are looking at how we can support and sustain wind turbines and their foundations in the offshore environment. Remember, offshore foundations are quite different from those on the land, particularly related to reliability. We are making offshore wind more sustainable and readily available as a significant energy source.” REUSE OF WASTEWATER “The third focus, which I lead as the director in the research center, is how we can make some of the processes we use for energy generation, wastewater treatment, etc., more sustainable than they are right now. For example, one of the main problems with hydraulic fracking operations, which is a major source of oil and gas in Texas, we use millions and millions of gallons of water every day when we pump oil and gas from the fracking operations. This water becomes contaminated with organic materials because it comes out with oil and gas along with thousands of parts per million of dissolved solids (inorganic ions). This water cannot be reused, so many companies use what is referred to as deep well injection, where we will never see that water again. However, this

process has resulted in increased seismic activity in Texas and Oklahoma. So, one of the things we are doing in our center is cleaning this water using membranes processes well enough to use it for agriculture or reuse it for other water applications, including fracking water. “We also have another project where we use membrane processes to reuse poultry process wastewater. When we process poultry meat, we produce tremendous amounts of high-quality water and create a problem finding enough clean water. We are using membrane processes to treat this

wastewater to such a high quality it can be reused in the poultry process. In other words, we make the process a clean, closed loop. So, you take a million gallons of water, and you can keep reusing this water without having to look for fresh water each time. These are some of the sustainability research aspects that our center is working on. WHAT HAPPENS TO EMISSIONS? “Our center is now in the second phase. We finished the first phase of $5 million, and we are now in the second $5 million funding. We are funded until 2024 to conduct this kind of research on our

FAMU School of the Environment

FAMU School of the Environment

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Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Reearch Laboratory

campus: energy and sustainability aspects of energy. For example, what are some of the impacts of using gasoline in cars? Or any other energy production: coal power plants, natural gas power plants. What happens to these emissions? How do they impact the air quality? We have modeling work that we have done to study those aspects. For example, if we shut down a coal power plant in Houston and initiate a giant wind farm in south Texas, will that have an air quality effect in the Houston area? These are some of the things we are doing in our research. “In our program, we have a Master of Science in engineering, with concentrations in civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, and environmental engineering. We are also looking at offering energy engineering concentration, which will include environmental sustainability.” WHERE ENGINEERING MEETS SCIENCE “As you can imagine, engineering is more application-oriented, meaning we use the concepts of science and design processes to clean water, wastewater, control air pollution, remediate contaminated soil, or other processes. So, it is more the application of scientific principles to solve everyday problems.

Michael S. Regan

“But if you look at the science, this may involve different sub-areas. Like toxicology, where people study the effect of other toxic chemicals on the human body. What kinds of impact can a particular class of chemicals have on human beings? “Then there is ecology, which looks at some of the processes that impact all the environments surrounding us, for example, different life forms, starting with microorganisms to the animals, and human beings are part of this ecosystem. All these are interrelated parts of ecology and are one of the topics of environmental science. More specifically, you can break it down into biochemical processes and the interactions between human beings and microorganisms. So those are the issues that people in environmental science study. Those programs are usually part of the colleges of arts and sciences. “In some cases, they may have a particular school where they may be looking at some of these environmental issues. They might call it the School of Environmental Sciences. Different universities offer these things in various colleges. But engineering is generally located in the College of Engineering, and we typically do not go into pure science issues. We limit ourselves to engineering because we use scientific principles and apply them to different processes or treatments. “For example, an environmental scientist can develop a process that an engineer may take that process and then use in a real-world application. As a researcher, I am in between these two disciplines, science and engineering. I teach engineering, but I do research where I study the science and create processes, and then as an engineer, I take that process and see if I can use it in a real-world application. My role as a researcher brings me closer to science.” PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW Michael S. Regan, a North Carolina A&T State University graduate, developed a passion for the environment while hunting and fishing with his father and grandfather and exploring the vast lands, waters, and inner Coastal Plain of North Carolina. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in earth and


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environmental science. As administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, he is responsible for helping to advance the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to combating climate change, restoring the role of science and transparency, and promoting environmental justice. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Symone Johnson Barker grew up in Cherry Hill. In an interview with Ray Kennedy of CCG Media, she spoke of playing in Middle Branch Park as a little girl but unaware that a nearby river led to the Chesapeake Bay. Johnson Barker started watching animal shows on Saturday mornings and began noticing the bugs and birds in her neighborhood. During high school, she volunteered at the National Aquarium in Baltimore as an exhibit guide. Her job involved talking to people about what they were seeing, and the role inspired her to become a marine scientist. One of her role models at Hampton University was Dr. Deirdre Gibson, chair of the department of marine and environmental science at the historically Black college and university (HBCU). SUSTAINABILITY FINANCE ADVISOR The Gulf Coast Equity Consortium is a five-year project designed by Dr. Robert Bullard, distinguished professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University, and Dr. Beverly Wright, executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental

Jackson State

capture and storage, hydrogen, naturebased approaches, and low-carbon technologies. “In facilitating these goals, a critical U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development initiative is to engage and leverage the research capabilities of HBCUs to help unearth transformational solutions for the Gulf Coast Carbon Collaborative focus areas of hydrogen, nature-based sequestration, electrification, carbon capture, and storage, nuclear, and low-carbon technologies.

Justice. Members of the consortium are leaders of community-based organizations and professors at HBCUs. In 2019, Entergy Corporation and the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development (U.S. BCSD) invited local businesses to discuss the new Gulf Coast Carbon Collaborative. . .BCSD was founded in 1992 to control greenhouse gas emissions in the Gulf Coast region and the risks posed by climate change. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Prairie View A&M University, the second oldest public institution of higher learning in Texas, is working on an energy and environmental project with NRG Energy, Inc., one of its corporate partners. In his current role at NRG Energy, Tarique Rashaud serves as a sustainability finance advisor on methods to secure sustainable energy project financing. He also sits on the Industrial Advisory Board of Prairie View A&M engineering and contributes to the US BCSD as co-lead of the Gulf Coast Carbon Collaborative. “The Gulf Coast Carbon Collaborative leverages industries, non-governmental organizations, and academia to increase understanding and adoption of decarbonization strategies,” Rashaud said. “Through this managed platform, stakeholder companies share details about their decarbonization goals and work together to develop multi-industry projects on electrification, carbon

“As a Prairie View A&M University engineering alum and champion for NRG Energy Inc’s PVAMU STEM Collaborative, I am aware of the PVAMU engineering research capabilities and realized the synergies between the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development— Gulf Coast Carbon Collaborative goals and PVAMU’s subject matter expertise and research. “The U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development leverages the National Institute for Inclusive Competitiveness to enact a broader HBCU engagement strategy. In brief, the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development—Gulf Coast Carbon Collaborative recently engaged PVAMU in developing the framework for a Solar + Soils Solution, which couples renewable energy technology with mycoremediation (a form of bioremediation) of (contaminated sites) in low- and moderate-income communities and utilizing renewable energy for resilience and climate risk predictive analytics.

Jackson State

“Without question, in my opinion, to achieve the Biden-Harris climate change goals and global United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a more inclusive tent of research minds is necessary. HBCUs present an underutilized resource that must be engaged to make these lofty goals a reality.” S

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USBE & Information Technology | CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE 2021

PROJECTIONS FROM THE WORLD’S LEADING CLIMATE EXPERTS show that disregarding climate policies will increase our global energy consumption by approximately 30 percent through 2040 and beyond, led largely by fossil fuels.

A National Perspective on Global Energy Panelists

These experts believe that without a major shift in current policy and technology trends, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will continue to grow, and climate change will drastically worsen. At the 2021 BEYA Global Competitiveness Conference, three energy industry veterans—BENTINA TERRY, senior vice president of Southern Company; MARGARET JACKSON, deputy director of Atlantic Council’s Climate and Advanced Energy Program; and DANA REDDEN, founder of Solar Stewards—joined us to answer some questions about the future of energy.

Bentina Chisolm Terry

Senior VP - Metro Atl & Corp. Rel Georgia Power Company

Dana Clare Redden

Founder Solar Stewards

Margaret Jackson

Deputy Dir. Climate & Adv Energy at Atlantic Council

Here’s a peek at what they had to say:

How do you see the current state of energy production and use? BT: The whole energy sector is in flux. We’re moving toward more renewables and more distributed resources. We’re electrifying many things, too, which is kind of a backbone or cornerstone for other technological advances. You can’t have autonomous vehicles until you make electric vehicles. DR: I’m really excited about the democratization of energy. That means individuals and businesses in this space will have a lot more control over not only their energy consumption but their production. We’re seeing that happen globally, and it’s helping with economic development and national security and producing cleaner energy. That’s very encouraging. MJ: While we are starting to see a rapid rise in renewable energy, there’s also a rise in fossil fuel consumption, which is concerning. The good news is that, every year since 2015, global renewable energy installed capacity has outpaced fossil fuel installed capacity. We’re also seeing the major oil and gas companies rebranding as energy companies. So, we’re seeing the market shift, but it’s going to take some time.

What type of transition strategy is needed to fix the crisis we’re facing? MJ: The “Four Ds” are a good way to frame the solution—decarbonization,

digitization, decentralization, and democratization. Decentralization and democratization put energy closer to the consumer. In regards to decarbonization, we can’t overstate the importance of the shift to electric. And digitization… we need digitization for better grid management. You’re starting to see partnerships between companies like Microsoft and Shell to integrate AI and blockchain technology, and that’s very exciting. BT: A lot of what we’re talking about in the industry is research and development, how both corporations and the government can invest in continuous R&D or energy technology. How do we continue to research and develop carbon capture? How do we continue to electrify more and more of our transportation sector? We’re working on a project in Atlanta with MARTA, our rapid transit system, to electrify buses. Trains are already electrified, which people don’t think about, but now we’re working to electrify the buses, and [those types of projects] require research and development across the entire sector. DR: I might be a little biased as an entrepreneur, but what we need is a vehicle to bring new technology to market. It’s great to have a solution, but until it can reach people and perform and function in a marketplace, it’s going to sit on a shelf. For this transition to work, we need innovative business models to push new strategies and challenge the status quo. That’s where

the magic happens and where we really start to see the adoption of solutions.

What are the biggest challenges in achieving a future where renewable energy is status quo? DR: The challenge is in speaking to the part of humans that is hesitant to change. It’s as simple as that. We need that messaging. We need to convince folks what’s in it for them. The biggest challenge is human nature. MJ: I agree with Dana—we’re very much happy to stay with the status quo. We used to hear that there’s a tradeoff between the energy transition and economic prosperity, but that’s not the case anymore. We have all of the technologies we need [to significantly reduce emissions], but the reality is that it’s policy and our individual decisions that prevent us from getting there. BT: One of the things we always have going on in the back of our minds is how to get these technologies to the least among us. Where are people living in apartment complexes going to charge their electric vehicles? How do we get landlords to want to take energy reduction measures in properties where they don’t pay the power bill? Equity has to be an overlay when we think about getting these technologies into our communities. We have to think about balancing emissions reduction with the cost to our customers. S

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USBE & Information Technology | CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE 2021

Anthony Kinslow II, founding CEO of Gemini Energy Solutions, recently moderated a panel entitled Preparing Our Communities to Address the Climate Crisis, hosted by Career Communications Group. His introduction focused on the importance of both slowing climate change and protecting human beings from its effects. “The devastation of unusually strong and frequent hurricanes, the winter vortex that shut down Texas, the droughts across the Midwest and fires on the West Coast… these are just the beginning if we don’t step up and make the change,” he says. Joining Kinslow were three professional climate activists working in various capacities to fight global warming and its effects.

billion set aside for transportation and infrastructure. No one knows if the bill will get through Congress, but I see that as an exciting opportunity. How do you take that money and create climate change?

Dr. Regan F. Patterson, transportation equity research fellow, Congressional Black Caucus; Dana Clare Reddon, founder, Solar Stewards; and Brig. Gen. C. David Turner, president, 3E Turner & Associate. Below are some excerpts from the conversation. The panelists introduce their work and talk about some of the things they find exciting and challenging about the current state of climate activism.

How does your work slow or protect our communities from climate change? DANA CLARE REDDON: Solar Stewards is a social enterprise that connects renewable energy markets to marginalized communities.

Our program leverages private sector investments to outfit companies’ data centers and facilities with on-site solar energy, but also to buy renewable energy credits. We’re giving them the opportunity to purchase these credits in our communities so our communities can benefit from that influx of investment and we can create more resiliency hubs and distributed energy applications in our communities. DR. REGAN F. PATTERSON: I conduct policy analysis and research that looks at how our inequitable transportation system prevents people from accessing resources. For instance, freeways are often routed through communities of color, particularly Black communities, so we’re seeing high asthma rates and other effects in Black communities.

And we don’t live in walkabout cities. We’re reliant on cars. So if you don’t have a car, how do you get to a hospital? When we talk about climate change, we have to talk about transportation systems broadly and comprehensively.

It’s one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, but there are co-pollutants that adversely impact our communities, and the living conditions it creates. BG TURNER: I consult companies on water

and water-related issues. For instance, I’m working with one company called Hyperloop Transportation Technology that’s trying to figure out how to [quickly] move people and supplies from one location to another underground… to go from Cleveland to Chicago in 30 minutes, for instance. It’s an energyindependent technology that works off solar and magnets. This is important because it minimizes the release of greenhouse gasses, and our water absorbs a lot of the effects of greenhouse gasses. What’s something you’re excited about at the beginning of this decade, and what’s something you find challenging?

TURNER: When you look at the flooding happening along the Mississippi River or the number of extreme hurricanes in Florida, we’re really starting to see the impacts of climate change. The challenge is figuring out how to make ourselves resilient while mitigating those effects.

PATTERSON: What is exciting and challenging are two sides of the same coin to me. The exciting side is how the climate crisis is currently being addressed in a way that addresses the many intersections of climate. You’re seeing folks come at it from a racial equity perspective, an economic equity perspective, gender, sexuality, etc. All of those perspectives have been integrated into the climate movement.

That brings me to why it’s also a challenge. In my work, cars have always been sites of harm in terms of health, climate, policing, etc. Livable futures require us to consider each of these problems concurrently because, again, we’re not going to have livable futures if we don’t address each of these components. REDDON: I’m excited about Generation Z.

Their ability to disseminate information is very impressive. I’m confident that, at some point in the future, I’ll be able to say I made my mark and can pass it on to this very capable generation that’s going to build off our work, just like we built on the civil rights and environmental movements before us. The challenge is in incumbent industries and antiquated ways of thinking. Whether it’s racism or holding onto those outdated models that aren’t serving us, that’s something to overcome. It’s not just relegated to age, either. You can have an open—or closed—mind at any age. S

I’m excited about President Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill—$623 USBE & Information Technology | CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE 2021


Dr. BJ Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder, ClearFlame Engine Technologies

US Black Engineer & Information Technology (USBE&IT) magazine launched the maiden issue of Leading Voices (LV) in the fall of 2017. Broken up into three or four columns written by inventors, entrepreneurs, and STEM policymakers, the section spotlights the 14 challenges outlined by the National Academy of Engineering, and disruptors such as artificial intelligence (AI) and bioengineering. During its existence, LV has provided perspectives on smart cities, building a weather-ready nation, and where AI is in your future. An auspicious start for one of USBE Magazine’s newest sections. Leading Voices is available in print and online at

Leading Voices Contributing Editors ......................... Dr. BJ Johnson

CEO and Co-Founder ClearFlame Engine Technologies

Dr. Lashun Massey (1983-2021)

Project Manager, Research, School of Engineering and Computer Science University of Texas at Dallas

ClearFlame an Equitable Clean Energy Solution G

ood fortune doesn’t come out of thin air. Luck comes from recognizing the opportunities we are given, appreciating them, and not squandering them. I have been fortunate to have many opportunities in my life to learn and grow. While some things came more naturally, others came as a result of significant resources and lessons poured into me by family, mentors, and friends. One such lesson my parents instilled in me early on: If you have the ability to do something about a problem, it is your responsibility to help address it. I realized many years ago that the problem I should, and could, help address was our climate.

In my late high school and early college years, I developed an interest in physics as a field. It fascinated me that the complexities of our world could be broken down into numbers and equations. If you threw a ball, you could calculate, based on first principles, exactly where that ball will land. Those same principles apply to the flight of rockets and the motion of planets. Through physics, and by extension STEM, we can understand the world in that fundamental way and use this knowledge to solve problems we face on a daily basis. Around this same time, climate change became a hot topic of conversation. The apparent intersection of climate change and physics for me, as a student at Stanford University, was energy—how we use it, how we make it, and how we convert it from one form to another. I was fortunate to get a thesis project with a professor at Stanford who played to my interest in energy and making engines cleaner and more efficient. The culmination of my studies ultimately became ClearFlame Engine Technologies. ClearFlame’s focus on equitable clean energy is two-fold. First, we need to influence the negative factors that affect air quality and serve as irritants to human lungs, including air pollution like soot and smog. Black and brown residents in Chicago have a nine-year lower life expectancy than white residents in large


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part because of the lower air quality in areas where they live. If we want a sustainable future, we need an equitable solution that will address urban air quality in areas like Oakland or Long Beach, or internationally in places like Shanghai or New Delhi. However, just reducing our energy use or restricting how we access that energy does not solve the whole problem. There are still a billion people on this planet who do not have basic electricity. Everyone also should have access to energy; it is vital to a person’s quality of life. We need to expand energy use cleanly and sustainably—providing clean air and protecting our climate, but doing so in a way that is fair to everyone. The fight against climate change is critical, but in many ways the topic of urban air quality has been pushed to the fringes of the discussion. I have made it my personal mission to give both topics the equal light that they deserve. No one thinks improving air quality is a bad thing. However, that type of thinking does exist around the subject of climate change. The scientific community has not done an adequate job explaining to the common person the detrimental costs of climate change and why it matters. We’ve also not done a great job of discussing the different ways we can solve this problem. Because of these shortcomings, many people are afraid we are asking them to give up their ways of life when we speak about the need to mitigate climate change. That is NOT what ClearFlame is asking anyone to do. In fact, it’s not what the world should be asking anyone to do. Climate change is a problem, but there should be a way to solve it that does not evoke fear—period. If we can get to that explanation, the politics around the subject will no longer have a leg to stand on. Our mission at ClearFlame is to prove that we can provide a decarbonized, sustainable solution for traditionallydiesel, heavy-duty applications. We do not want to do so in a way that fundamentally

Leading Voices

The scientific community has not done an adequate job explaining to the common person the detrimental costs of climate change and why it matters. We’ve also not done a great job of discussing the different ways we can solve this problem. Because of these shortcomings, many people are afraid we are asking them to give up their ways of life when we speak about the need to mitigate climate change.

changes the way people get their jobs done, including spending money on expensive solutions. ClearFlame offers a sustainable and practical solution at the same time. It does so by leveraging the attributes of the existing diesel engine that have made it so successful worldwide while simultaneously addressing the specific aspects of the engine that lead to harmful emissions. In a sentence, ClearFlame takes the diesel fuel out of the diesel engine. Our technology allows the dirty petroleum

diesel to be replaced by widely available, clean-burning, renewable fuels while maintaining the same power, efficiency, and practicality. Our solution also preserves the human knowledge base around diesel-fueled machines. The people who operate and maintain these engines around the globe will continue to be familiar with it—90 percent of the parts remain the same. These engines can still power global economies and improve quality of life. The only difference with ClearFlame is that these same machines will no longer see their benefits coupled to the damage of urban pollution or the threat of climate change. Some people have questioned the use of liquid fuels when we are “getting rid of combustion engines.” If we are serious about making a difference in clean energy quickly, we need to be serious about engaging the problem that exists today and not solely banking on what we hope the world will look like in 10-plus years. While there is a strong global movement toward electric vehicles—as there should be—there are still 3.5 million diesel trucks on the road in the U.S. and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Not only do we need to start making new trucks, but we need to do something about the millions of old diesel engines still in use today. That is where ClearFlame can and will make an expedient and substantial impact on air quality. The push for sustainability is a major disruptor to a substantial industry. Some may find that threatening, but it is imperative that the industry evolves. ClearFlame truly is a win-win solution. Our technology can seamlessly integrate into the existing manufacturing processes of diesel manufacturers around the world. By working with ClearFlame, they’ll continue to do what they’ve excelled at for over 100 years: producing diesel engines. The only difference is those engines will not fundamentally rely on diesel fuel. ClearFlame provides a way for traditional diesel engine companies to use their existing core competency to provide worldwide sustainability. We have known about climate change for decades, yet there hasn’t been a movement to do something significant about it until the last few years. The last

election brought to the forefront our carbon issues and the speed at which these problems are advancing. Our nation shifted to the perspective of the rest of the world, which inevitably centered around one statement: It’s “go” time. If you have the ability to do something about a problem, it is your responsibility to help address it. Now is the perfect moment to light this flame (pun intended). ClearFlame has responded to that urgency—we have proved our product’s practicality and efficiency, and are now putting it on the road. Our technical progress lined up exceptionally with what was happening in the market, both politically and commercially. The collective global vision for our world’s future rests in procuring the resources and energy needed to live our lives the way we want so that we can do our jobs effectively and efficiently. We must decouple those needs from solutions that harm the environment and do not allow us to make the world better for the generations coming after us. ClearFlame is such a solution. Whatever your life is, and whatever you do with it, it either uses energy or can be improved with energy. If we want our children to inherit a better world than ours, we all need to make sure we’re protecting the environment we have now. I think that is a message we can all get behind. S

Check out Dr. BJ Johnson on his episode of High-Tech Sunday

USBE & Information Technology | CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE 2021


Dr. Lashun Massey (1983-2021), Project Manager, Research, School of Engineering and Computer Science, University of Texas at Dallas

Becoming Boundless with Boldness and Balance *This commentary is based on an interview the late Dr. Massey did with Career Communications Group’s HighTech Sunday podcast. High-Tech Sunday Episode #26 featuring Dr. Lashun Massey premiered on March 7, 2021*


was born and raised a small-town country girl on an Arkansas farm with my grandparents. I helped with much of the manual labor on the farm. This atmosphere and culture instilled in me many of my core values. They also helped shape who I have ultimately become. I learned the importance of being dedicated and committed to hard work. I also gained an important perspective regarding being persistent and persevering through different challenges in life. These tenets have been extremely pivotal throughout my career. Because of my upbringing, my mission in life has centered on encouraging, inspiring, and motivating others. I do this by sharing the lessons I have learned throughout my life and career. My primary message? The path to achieving your goals will not be easy. There will be challenges along the way. But do not stop! Keep going! There will be times when you will face obstacles or challenges, and you may feel you cannot overcome them, that you are not good enough. Know that you are. Keep going! Others have traveled the roads you are going down, and they succeeded. You will, too! This is what it means to have a boundless mindset. I honed it within myself as a young college student. During my undergraduate experience, instructors and teachers would come and talk with us about the different career paths available to us. Many would explain we had three choices: Go into an academic setting, pursue a career in governmental operations, or focus on some type of industry or consulting career. The more I thought about having to choose between those three options, the more I did not want to be forced to choose. In my mind, I could merge all three and create the career I wanted for myself. Being boundless starts with developing


an attitude of boldness. I dared to be different, to think differently, and to consider my professional career atypically. None of those things are wrong. Likewise, there is no “typical” type of engineer. You do not have to be tied to one sector only. It is completely okay to be involved in different lanes within the industry. And

Being boundless not only requires boldness; it requires balance. You will have many responsibilities to juggle. To do them well, you have to be grounded. That means knowing who you are and understanding why you do what you do. It also means making time for the people in your life who are important to you, including family and friends.

it is perfectly fine if those lanes overlap. You have the power to integrate those paths and make your path truly your own. This has to be a key message for up-andcoming engineers. It is okay to diverge from “the norm.” That is inherently what we do as engineers. It is okay to do things YOUR way. You can create your painting and show us how YOU want it to look! Show us what the mosaic of your career path looks like from YOUR paradigm. This attitude of boldness will require several things. First, it requires self-

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confidence. You must believe in yourself, your abilities, and the path you want to take in life. If you have worked hard to get where you are, know that you deserve to be where you are and go where you want. This will be of dire importance when you find yourself in a room full of people who do not look like you. It can be intimidating. But you have a place among your peers. You are also an expert in this field. Identify and assert yourself as such, and everyone will follow suit. You must also be resolute in the face of failure. Failure is not an enemy, and it is not something to fear. Fearing failure will only inhibit personal and professional progress. The only true “failure” happens when you do not pursue something you are curious about. Be deliberate in your pursuits, regardless of the outcome. Step out and try those avenues you may consider impossible. Doing so will always produce learning, and learning will always produce growth. Being boundless not only requires boldness; it requires balance. You will have many responsibilities to juggle. To do them well, you have to be grounded. That means knowing who you are and understanding why you do what you do. It also means making time for the people in your life who are important to you, including family and friends. You must also be important to you. Self-care is a significant part of being balanced. Throughout your journey, know that it is okay to revisit any aspect of what you have going on. Make the necessary modifications to what balance looks like for you as you see fit. Maintaining balance will be a lifelong process. Adjust and make different allocations as needed, when needed. Continue to be optimized in whatever you lend yourself to, and you will always be prepared for the challenges and successes that present themselves. There are no limits to what you can achieve when you live, plan, and execute your goals purposefully. I hope my personal and professional experiences will be an example to future engineers of excellence, charity, and being boundless. S


FEBRUARY 17-19, 2022



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CAREER OUTLOOK How can engineers help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases to limit climate change? Scientists across the globe have observed changes in the Earth’s climate. Some changes include increased heat and precipitation, erosion, and coastal flooding. If improving the quality of life is aligned with your career goals, read more here about college degrees and industrial


Industry Overview: How to save the world


Job Horizon: Get the skills you need for the jobs you want

sustainability. Environmental engineers, geoscientists, and other professionals help solve the complex problems of the 21st century. In addition, engineers and technicians implement solutions that conserve natural resources. With competitive salaries for rewarding work, these careers are worth the preparation and perseverance.

USBE & Information Technology | CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE 2021 39




by Alfred Lewis



USBE & Information Technology | CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE 2021

INDUSTRY OVERVIEW The impact of humans

on our environment has been well documented and is becoming more and more apparent. Are you one of the countless college students and recent college graduates who are looking to make an immediate and long-lasting impact on our environmental wellbeing? Whether you are concerned about the ethical collection of energy, the prudent stewardship of Earth’s resources, ways to improve processes to be more efficient, or anything in between, you will want to consider one of many environmental engineering or environment-related careers. Environmental engineers, among other respected professionals in the field of engineering, apply science and math to design, implement, and evaluate solutions to everyday problems. Environmental engineers use their specialized training, skills, and knowledge to not only carry out this process, but do so in a way that maintains or improves our natural world. People in these types of environmental careers are involved in diverse, complex, and delicate projects such as water management, green building design, and more. Environmental engineer is a great entry-level position that allows for growth, but also impact. Environmental engineers follow the leadership of senior engineers in carrying out projects and tasks that will solve realworld problems. Senior environmental engineer is a desirable position for graduates looking for positions that will make use of a master’s degree. Senior environmental engineers work closely with management and other stakeholders, while also supervising engineers and other staff to solve problems and complete projects on time and within budget. The annual median salary for a senior environmental engineer is roughly $108,000, while the entry-level environmental engineer median salary is roughly $67,000. Environmental technician is another exciting career that positively affects the environment. An environmental technician works with environmental engineers and scientists to identify, evaluate, prevent, and control contamination of the environment.

Environmental technicians inspect and maintain equipment, work with the containment or disposal of hazardous waste, manage waste operations, collect samples needed for a variety of purposes, and assist stakeholders with compliance of regulatory standards. They also sometimes engage in environmental impact studies of new projects or evaluate the environmental health of sites that could possibly contaminate the environment, such as abandoned manufacturing sites or industrial plants. Environmental technicians also sometimes work in testing laboratories. They collect and track samples and perform tests. Their work is invaluable, and it is done under the direction of other professionals. The median salary for environmental technicians is roughly $40,000 per year. Another exciting career to consider is a green building engineer. These professionals help to create construction projects that are sustainable or leave less of an environmental footprint than traditional construction projects. As consumers, officials, and advisory boards become more aware of the impact of construction practices, green building engineers are increasingly utilized to create structures that minimize environmental harm. One common focus for green building engineers is to find ways to lower energy consumption by designing buildings with maximum natural lighting during periods of use, such as an office complex that allows most of its light to come from sunlight during office hours. The goal of a green building engineer is to create more energy- and resource-efficient models that protect occupants from nature’s extremes, while also not harming the environment through standard construction practices. Common areas of focus are:

• Water efficiency • Limiting toxic materials • Renewable energy • Energy efficiency • Indoor air quality • Sustainable development. The annual average salary for these cutting-edge positions is roughly $75,000–$80,000. Geoscientists study the physical aspects

of the environment and conduct research for a variety of purposes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, geoscientists typically do any of the following tasks, depending on their specific focus or role:

• Plan and carry out field studies, in

which they visit locations to collect samples and conduct surveys • Analyze aerial photographs, well logs (detailed records of geologic formations found during drilling), rock samples, and other data sources to locate deposits of natural resources and estimate their size • Conduct laboratory tests on samples collected in the field • Make geologic maps and charts • Prepare written scientific reports • Present their findings to clients, colleagues, and other interested parties. Geoscientists use a wide variety of tools, such as a hammer and chisel, to collect rock samples and then use ground-penetrating radar equipment to search for oil or minerals. In laboratories, they may use X-rays and electron microscopes to determine the chemical and physical composition of rock samples. They may also use remote sensing equipment to collect data, and modeling software to analyze the data collected. The average annual salary for a geoscientist is $93,580. What does the future hold for environmental engineers and those in related professions? Experts say that technology will play an increasingly pivotal role in many ways. One example is the semi-autonomous improvements in the manufacturing of green building materials. Advanced AI software will also enable professionals to increase their productivity and make better decisions. If improving the Earth and the use of its natural resources is aligned with your professional goals, you will want to consider a degree or position in environmental engineering or a related field. Environmental engineers, geoscientists, and other professionals help solve the complex problems of today with a focus on improving the Earth. S

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Are you planning on

entering a STEM career with a focus on environmental or climate science? Perhaps you are interested in improving the maintenance and disposal of environmentally hazardous materials. You might be interested in engineering green buildings that have little to no environmental footprint. Or you might want to engineer solutions that improve clean water availability or clean energy resources. If these types of worldwide issues fascinate you, you should consider an exciting career as an environmental engineer, environmental scientist, green building engineer, etc. What are the necessary college majors, hard and soft skills, and understandings that employers are looking for? Environmental engineers and other professionals working in the environmental and climate industry obtain degrees in environmental engineering, environmental science, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, materials engineering, and many other areas. You will use the foundational principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to create solutions to a myriad of environmental problems. You will want a degree that comes from an ABET-accredited college or program. ABET is a nonprofit, ISO 9001-certified organization that accredits college and


university programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology. In fact, a degree from an ABET-accredited program is typically necessary to become a licensed professional engineer. Be sure to check your state’s and potential employer’s rules and preferences before selecting your college and program. If possible, consider whether to enroll in a five-year program that awards both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as a senior engineer, in management, or as an instructor at some colleges or universities. As a master’s-level professional, you might choose to do research and development, and many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree. Hard skills that are highly desired by employers are proficient use of global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS). GPS has many uses within the environmental industry. According to the U.S. Space Force, “Aerial studies of some of the world’s most impenetrable wilderness are conducted with the aid of GPS technology to evaluate an area’s wildlife, terrain, and human infrastructure. By tagging imagery with GPS coordinates, it is possible to

USBE & Information Technology | CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE 2021

evaluate conservation efforts and assist in strategy planning. Some nations collect and use mapping information to manage their regulatory programs such as the control of royalties from mining operations, delineation of borders, and the management of logging in their forests.” GIS is a powerful tool for data analysis and planning. According to environmentalscience. org, “GIS is fast becoming the tool to use for sustainability and planning as we seek to maximize the efficiency of the environment around us and protect what needs to be protected while maintaining health and jobs in the modern economy. People who work in sustainability know that many disparate elements must come together to keep the mechanics of the world around us functioning in the way we want it to function; today, this includes the ecology.” Soft skills that are highly sought after for environmental engineers and other environmental professionals include:

• Imagination • Interpersonal skills • Problem-solving skills • Reading skills • Writing skills What else can you do to prepare for a career in the environmental industry? Practical experience is always valuable, so seek out cooperative engineering programs, where college credit is given for structured job experience. Likewise, summer engineering programs and camps, as well as internships, are great ways to build a resume, gain practical experience, and prepare for the work ahead of you. If you want to make an impact on our environment and help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, consider a career in the environmental/ climate industry. Professionally licensed engineers, senior engineers, technicians, and other professionals all work together to collect data, analyze statistical patterns, and implement solutions that improve clean water availability, conserve natural resources, and improve green energy. With competitive salaries, rewarding work, and challenging problems, these careers are worth the preparation and perseverance. S


USBE & Information Technology | CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE 2021



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Leidos is continuously building on the steps that led to substantial growth in 2021. Along with two acquisitions and a climb to No. 248 in the Fortune 500 rankings, Leidos is also proudly positioned as one of America’s most ethical and admired companies, and best employers for diversity and Veterans. We are creating more opportunities for our employees and those who join us, enabling us all to grow together.