Shipbuilders Honored During Conference Pictured from left are award recipients Tiara Gray, Deshawn Jones, Antaux Rollins and Alex Thomas.

Shipbuilders Honored During Conference

Published February 16, 2021

Four Newport News Shipbuilding employees were recognized for achievements in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields during the 35th annual Black Engineer of the Year Award STEM Global Competitiveness Conference. The conference was held virtually this year in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Alex Thomas, an engineering manager who was honored, said he accepted the award “with a complicated reverence.”

“While understanding that promoting diversity in STEM fields has historically been a complex issue, the awards, conferences and company commitments provide the essential perspective in the area of STEM in communities that have historically been underrepresented,” he said. “STEM careers are important in many industries and communities, as it provides compelling career opportunities as well as improved socioeconomic options and outlooks.”

Thomas – along with Tiara Gray, an industrial engineer; Deshawn Jones, a network communication manager; and Antaux Rollins, an engineering technician – received a Modern Day Technology Leader award. The award recognizes efforts in shaping the future of STEM.

“It used to be said that necessity is the mother of invention. In a diverse world with diverse problems, it is imperative to hear diverse answers to provide diverse solutions. For this reason, it is important that STEM recognizes all backgrounds to ensure the greatest minds have an opportunity to give the world the greatest inventions,” Rollins said.

Jones said he was excited and humbled to be recognized. He said it’s important to listen, observe and acknowledge the current state of STEM in today’s society.

“After understanding the current state, we can be intentional about creating the desired state. For me, that desired state looks more diverse. Ideally, I would like this field to mirror representation as we see it in society and curate an inclusive culture where diverse talent feels welcomed,” he said. “Whether bringing new ideas, technologies, or being a STEM advocate in the community, a little intentionality in shaping the future can yield a major impact.”