by Eric Addison

More than 170 attendees enjoyed food, fellowship, entertainment, and inspiring words from speakers on the impact of NSBE’s mission, at the 30th Anniversary Awards Gala of the National Society of Black Engineers Baltimore Metropolitan Area Chapter (NSBE–BMAC). The black-tie event — a fundraiser for the chapter’s programs supporting collegiate and precollegiate students as well as professionals in STEM — took place at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture, in downtown Baltimore, on Saturday, June 22. The event program included awards presentations to seven individuals and organizations, recognizing their outstanding academic, professional and community-building achievements. Steffanie B. Easter, director of Navy Staff for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, was keynote speaker, and Nicole Baker, coanchor of the morning news show on WJZ-TV in Baltimore, served as mistress of ceremonies.
Among the attendees was Markham Smith, the founder and first president of NSBE–BMAC. In 1989, Smith was a producibility engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Maryland, and already had a long track record of active involvement and leadership with NSBE. Until the year before, the Society had been an organization exclusively for college students, but when the NSBE Alumni Extension was formed in 1988 to serve the needs and interests of college graduates who had been members of NSBE in college, Smith was at the forefront. Today, the Alumni Extension is NSBE Professionals, a 3,300-member organization that includes former collegiate members of NSBE as well as other STEM professionals committed to making a positive impact.
“First, I am amazed that 30 years have passed so quickly,” says Smith, who is now a Joint Science and Technology Program manager for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. “I can still remember that first Alumni meeting in my apartment during the late summer of 1988 when we decided to charter a new chapter that would be called the Baltimore Metropolitan Alumni Chapter (BMAC).  Even though we initiated some great programs and projects in the early years, I am very excited that the chapter has reached a much higher level of sophistication and influence while continuing to advance the mission of NSBE.”
The 30th anniversary gala “was truly an impressive and grand affair,” Smith adds. “The venue was awesome. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of such an exceptional and relevant organization…. NSBE–BMAC is doing remarkable work within the community.”

‘The Best of NSBE’

After Easter’s candid, motivational talk about her rise from chemical engineering student to the U.S. Senior Executive Service, presentations were made to the Baltimore LINKS-NSBE Jr. Chapter at Bluford-Drew-Jemison STEM Academy, recipient of the NSBE Jr. Chapter Excellence Award; NSBE’s University of Maryland, Baltimore County Chapter, which was honored with the NSBE Collegiate Chapter Excellence Award; and Northrop Grumman Corporation, which received the Corporate Education Partnership Award. Oyare Victor Oko, a junior majoring in electrical engineering at Morgan State University, was honored in absentia with the William T. Batten Leadership Award scholarship, named for the late William Thomas Batten Jr., outstanding scholar-athlete, longtime Westinghouse/Northrop Grumman Corporation engineer and early member of NSBE–BMAC.
Three outstanding professionals received NSBE–BMAC’s Legacy Achievement Award:

  • Earnestine Baker, executive director emerita of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Meyerhoff Scholars Program, which she led from 1992 to 2013, providing vital service to the nationally recognized program for talented minority students interested in pursuing terminal degrees in the sciences, mathematics, engineering and computer science;

  • Eugene M. DeLoatch, Ph.D., recently retired inaugural dean of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering at Morgan State University, where he produced more black engineers, during his 33-year tenure, than any other person in the history of U.S. higher education; and

  • James E. West, research professor of electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering at The Johns Hopkins University, former Bell Laboratories Fellow, recipient of the first NSBE Golden Torch Distinguished Engineer Award (in 1998), holder of more than 250 U.S. and foreign patents and codeveloper of the electret transducer technology used in most microphones today.

“The event exceeded my expectations and truly displayed the excellence and the best of NSBE,” says William S. Redmond III, outgoing 2017–19 NSBE–BMAC president. “We were able to accomplish several things: celebrate our 30th anniversary, highlight the excellence of some of our fellow NSBE Jr. and collegiate chapters, honor the life of William T. Batten, pay homage to some very deserving individuals who epitomize the mission of NSBE, and motivate and energize people to work towards accomplishing our 2025 goal. The highlight of the evening for me was the immeasurable impact of the connections made that will help transform people’s lives.”
Garneisha Hibbert addressed the audience as NSBE–BMAC’s newly elected 2019–20 president. The chapter’s next major event is its third annual Minority Innovation Weekend, slated for October 12–13, 2019.

Photo Credit: P.A. Greene Photographer