Three Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) employee were recognized as Science Spectrum Trailblazers and seven recognized as Modern-Day Technology Leaders during the annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Global Competitiveness Conference held in National Harbor, Maryland, Feb. 9-11.

Upon hearing of his award win, Troy Bennett, training systems interoperability (IO) branch head, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), said, “I am truly humbled and honored to be a recipient of the 2023 Science Spectrum Trailblazer Award. Since joining NAWCTSD in 2005, I have been a true believer in our mission and strived daily to ensure we are providing the best training capabilities to our warfighters.”

Both Angeline Brown, computer scientist, Advanced Technology Integration, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Webster Outlying Field (WOLF), and Jamaine Clemmons, Advanced Technology and Innovation (ATI) team lead, Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE), credited their team for their support and recognition. 

“Receiving this award confirms that the admiration that I have for my team is reciprocated and I am grateful, elated and honored that my talent is being recognized,” said Brown.

“This award signifies to me that the years of hard work, dedication, and passion has, is, and will continue to make an impact on our organization,” said Clemmons. “It also conveys to what I have always known, that I have a great team that works for me. Without them, this award would not be possible, so they are just as much, if not more, deserving of this award.”

For Clemmons and Richard Bowling Jr., TACAMO recapitalization (E-XX) chief engineer, NAWCAD, attending the BEYA STEM Awards was a return to their roots.

“To be recognized as a Modern Day Technology Leader at the BEYA STEM Conference is a great honor and achievement for me, because I used to attend the BEYA conference as a college student attending Morgan State University,” said Bowling. “In fact, in 2011, I was a college senior attending BEYA looking for a job upon graduation, and was actually hired through this event.”

“My senior mentor once asked me years ago what I wanted to be when I grew up within the organization, and my response was simple: “I want to make a difference,” said Clemmons. “This award signifies that I’m well on my way to making a difference.”

Both Jonathan Ortega, electrical engineer, NAWCAD, and John Ross, National Cyber Range Complex deputy director, NAWCAD, credited their award win, in part, to the NAVAIR community. 

“I am truly honored and grateful for the recognition of this prestigious 2023 BEYA STEM award,” said Ross. “It’s a testament to the excellence of our NAVAIR community and supportive environment. This is definitely a milestone I will cherish.”

“I am honored to be amongst the ranks of those who have been a recipient of BEYA’s Modern-Day Technology Leader Award,” said Ortega. “Being nominated has shown me that the command and its leadership are active in their efforts to show appreciation towards their personnel. This affirms me that our commitment to the mission is valued.”

Below is the list of 2023 BEYA Winners from NAVAIR:


Troy Bennett, Training Systems IO branch head, NAWCTSD

Bennett is an engineer who not only delivers groundbreaking training capabilities for our nation’s warfighters, but also empowers and creates career paths for future engineers and technology leaders within the civilian workforce and local community. He is a technical leader who consistently distinguishes himself while continually challenging himself and those around him to achieve more. In his current position, he and his teams provide IO design, development, test, consultation, products and services in the training systems technical domain. His technical leadership has directly contributed to major improvements and new capabilities for mission-based and advanced aviation warfare training.

Kyle Robinson-Jordan, electronics engineer, NAWCAD WOLF

Robinson-Jordan is the lead project engineer for the Navy-wide National Enterprise Land Mobile Radio System (ELMR) project, which is the primary means of worldwide voice communication among military and public safety personnel. He also supports others’ development through multiple teaching and outreach activities, such as promoting STEM for grade school students, serving as a team advisor and mentor for the Weather Evaluation System intern challenge, and as a volunteer for the National Society of Black Engineers at Thomas Stone High School.

Habib Sanusi, IO lead, Joint Strike Fighter program, NAWCAD

“As an entry level engineer, I never imaged myself being recognized by my peers for an award in engineering,” Sanusi said. “I’ve worked hard and sacrificed a lot to be where I am today.”

Sanusi is the IO lead for the Joint Strike Fighter program and lead for all data links on the F-35. Sanusi’s daily efforts contribute to U.S. national security by assuring that the F-35 Lightning II strike fighter’s capabilities make it the most technologically advanced, lethal, survivable and connected fighter aircraft in the world, giving pilots an advantage against any adversary and enabling them to execute their mission and come home safely. As the F-35 IO lead, Sanusi delivered Integrated Fire Control (IFC) two years early. In his spare time, he runs a successful shared-use kitchen, providing opportunities to up-and-coming culinary entrepreneurs and giving them an opportunity to prepare meals in a certified, licensed kitchen.


Richard Bowling Jr., TACAMO Recapitalization (E-XX) chief engineer, NAWCAD

Bowling led the E-XX engineering team in the first Acquisition Category (ACAT) One System Requirements Review (SRR) that was completely based on Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) practices performed by NAVAIR. The SRR was held over two separate week-long sessions and completed in June 2022. The efforts Bowling led on E-XX’s use of MBSE will greatly shorten the timeline to develop E-XX, and will save the program millions of dollars over the lifecycle of the platform. Since the program SRR was completed, Bowling has briefed multiple groups, including naval flag officers, on the processes and products that were produced, as well as lessons learned to help their journey with MBSE.

Angeline Brown, computer scientist, NAWCAD WOLF

Brown is the government project lead for the E-6B Configuration Management project team. She coordinates between contractor support team and government civilian intern support, alongside the PMA-271 engineering, production and logistics teams. Under her guidance, the team delivered a Phase I ‘As-Is’ lookup table of the assigned mission system drawing packages. This effort allowed the E-6B program to provide a current revision of the aircraft drawing package to support the Block II Upgrade Request for Proposal (RFP) in January 2022. This RFP was awarded by PMA-271 in June 2022. The Phase I effort is also used as the basis to build the Phase II and III drawing maintenance workflow with PMA-271 product teams and automated contract management tool to align with those processes.

Phillip Charles, head, Weapons and Data Links Strike Test, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD)

“I feel very honored that my command recognized me as candidate for such a prestigious award,” said Charles. “It’s surreal and very humbling to be considered a Modern Day Technology Leader.”

In less than 10 years, Charles has made a significant impact both technically and professionally to the teams and teammates he supports. Currently supporting the Weapons Datalinks and Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) Injections Capabilities Simulation Branch, Charles’ dedication and expertise to the F/A-18 and EA-18G Training Systems Technical Program Office was instrumental in maintaining this important capability.  In late 2021, he provided critical support for the deployment and upgrade of existing Link 16 Inject to Live Ground Stations throughout the U.S. and aboard USS Abraham Lincoln and USS George H.W. Bush.  In January 2022, he was selected as the head of the Weapons Datalinks and LVC Injections Capabilities Simulation Branch.

Jamaine Clemmons, Advance Technology and Innovation lead, FRCE

Clemmons has distinguished himself as a leader in providing vision and guidance to the development and implementation of new technologies within the naval sustainment community. Clemmons has lead his team in over 50 different advanced technology projects that capitalize on strategic investments and small business research efforts within the Navy. He has pioneered educational partnerships, industry collaborations, and cooperative research and development agreements that have greatly expanded the ability of naval sustainment activities to provide cost effective and timely support to fleet customers.

Jonathan Ortega, electrical engineer, NAWCAD

Ortega has demonstrated exemplary technical conscience and professionalism in his engineering and science organization. Ortega supports the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Support Equipment (SE) program as an electrical engineer providing his expertise to improve a number of key SE end items used by members of the U.S. Navy fleet. Ortega’s position requires him to frequently interact with Navy fleet representatives and technical experts. He is able to effectively communicate technical subject matter while also understanding technical requirements. He frequently seeks out additional training and tasking opportunities. After only six months, Ortega displayed his ability to take on assignments by supporting projects for an additional aircraft platform. This is uncharacteristic for many entry-level employees who typically take the first year to learn their originally assigned tasking.

John Ross, deputy director, National Cyber Range Complex, NAWCAD

Ross has championed multiple cyber technical and programmatic efforts, communicated and collaborated across Department of Defense (DoD) with Navy, Army, and Air Force experts on critical needs, and executed complex technical solutions in developing strategies and best practices to detect, deter and defend current threats to operations and assets. These efforts have resulted in advancements in tools, distributed network connectivity, and enabling technologies to conduct cyber test and evaluation (T&E) in live, virtual, constructive battlespace environments.

Joshua Willard, engineer, NAWCWD

Willard is meticulous and committed to the work he performs at NAWCWD, and to supporting his community. Willard is a technology leader through his hard work, determination and contributions he makes to the Next Generation Jammer test team. It is through his understanding of the system and functionality, that he is able to comprehensively test all requirements, and ensure that the best product is ultimately released to the fleet. Willard has demonstrated leadership through his engagement with command leadership diversity initiatives by actively recruiting and retaining African American talent to NAVAIR.

NAVAIR’s participation in BEYA spans more than 15 years. The command offers support for a variety of programs, including mentoring, recruiting, workshops and career development initiatives.

BEYA, founded in 1986, aims to honor the achievements of underrepresented demographics in STEM fields. The event itself, with a theme this year of “Becoming Everything You Are,” allows students, teachers and various professionals to network and share resources through workshops, presentations and more.

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