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Two NOAA employees honored at Black Engineer of the Year Awards

February 23, 2018
(Left to right) Thomas Renkevenes (NESDIS), Jason Taylor (NESDIS Award Winner), Dr. DaNa Carlis (OAR), Ben Friedman (NOAA), Richard Hill (NWS), Dr. Micheal Hick (NWS Award Winner), Eli Salahuddin (NESDIS), Neal Dipasquale (NWS) and Benjie Spencer (NWS) at the 2018 BEYA STEM Conference.

NOAA scientists Dr. Michael Hicks and Jason Taylor received Modern Day Technology Leader Awards at the annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Global Competitiveness Conference, which was held February 8-10, 2018, in Washington, DC. These awards recognize significant minority achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The BEYA Conference brings together professionals and students from a wide variety of STEM-related fields to share their experiences, network, and explore STEM career paths.

BEYA Awardee Dr. Michael Hicks
BEYA Awardee Dr. Michael Hicks.

Dr. Michael Hicks is an Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI) alumnus, receiving an EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship while pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Paine College. His internships with NOAA as an Undergraduate Scholar fostered his aspiration to further his education and pursue a career in atmospheric sciences. While earning his doctorate at Howard University, he was selected for the EPP/MSI Graduate Sciences Program. Dr. Hick’s dissertation focused on the impact of urbanization on planetary boundary layer processes and weather prediction.

After graduating and completing an internship with the National Weather Service (NWS), Dr. Hicks became a Physical Scientist at the NWS Sterling Field Support Center in Sterling, Virginia. He currently serves as the Standards Laboratory Manager for the Field Support Center, overseeing the operation of test and calibration laboratory assets and assuring the quality of performance of instrumentation and operators. Dr. Hicks helped establish the National Pressure Standards Lab, which services and calibrates over 500 pressure instruments annually. He also serves as a liaison to scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and is a member of the National Conference of Standards Laboratories International. Dr. Hicks works closely with these organizations, ensuring that best lab practices are followed and standards meet expectations.

His can-do attitude, honesty, and personal integrity make him a good motivator and leader of people. In my entire career, I have rarely seen such a young person of Mike’s caliber and personal drive.

Former NWS Deputy Director Laura Furgione noted, “Mike’s professional successes can be directly attributed to his personal traits; he has earned the respect of his peers as well as supervisors. His can-do attitude, honesty, and personal integrity make him a good motivator and leader of people. In my entire career, I have rarely seen such a young person of Mike’s caliber and personal drive.”

BEYA Awardee Jason Taylor.
BEYA Awardee Jason Taylor.

Mr. Jason Taylor earned his bachelor’s degree in Meteorology from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. He has been working for NOAA since completing his undergraduate degree, and has demonstrated his dedication toward continual learning by earning both a Master’s of Science in Information Technology and Project Management and a Master of Business Administration from University of Maryland University College while working at NOAA.

Mr. Taylor has held several significant roles at NOAA since joining the agency in 1997. He began his career as a contractor for NOAA Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) and became a federal employee in 2004, supporting the NWS Office of Science and Technology. He went on to the NWS Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services, where he was the project manager for the NWS Capabilities and Requirements Decision Support process, the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System Program, and the NWS Internet Dissemination System Program. He served as the Acting Deputy Director for the NOAA Research Office of Weather and Air Quality, and then advanced to his current role as the User Services Coordinator within the Satellite Products and Services Division of NESDIS.

As User Services Coordinator, Mr. Taylor is the point of contact on operational NOAA satellite data for data users. As the NOAA lead for the interagency Satellite Needs Working Group, Mr. Taylor gathered information for NOAA’s high-priority satellite product and mission needs and submitted it to NASA. In this role, he also gathered input from diverse stakeholders and provided high level briefings throughout NOAA.

Mr. Taylor’s dedication and commitment contributed toward successfully performing the mission of providing high quality environmental satellite products and services and engaging external and internal users.

Thomas Renkevens, NOAA Satellite Products and Services Division Chief, remarked, “Mr. Taylor continues to show commitment to excellence in science and technology, from his prior work at NWS and NOAA Research and currently within NESDIS. Mr. Taylor’s dedication and commitment contributed toward successfully performing the mission of providing high quality environmental satellite products and services and engaging external and internal users.”

Both Michael and Jason are helping to train the next generation of diverse STEM leaders by mentoring students at the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, or NCAS-M. NCAS-M is one of four EPP/MSI Cooperative Science Centers, which promote collaborative research and capacity building in NOAA-mission sciences at Minority Serving Institutions. NOAA joins BEYA in congratulating these two outstanding employees for their scientific achievements and commitment to mentorship.