ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees were recognized by the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation during their 28th annual conference here Oct. 5-9.
HENAAC, through Great Minds in STEM, focuses their nation-wide programming on science, technology, engineering and math awareness programs for kindergarten through college age students.
Each year, HENAAC seeks out and documents the world-class contributions of Hispanic professionals in STEM.
Brig. Gen. Mark Toy, commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, represented the Corps' Chief of Engineers at the conference.
"I am honored to represent USACE at this year's HENAAC conference celebrating the outstanding accomplishments of Hispanic STEM professionals," said Toy. "USACE is the premier public engineering organization in the Nation and what makes USACE great is its people."
The Corps' Gerardo I. Velazquez was named the 2016 Civil Engineering Distinction Award winner and Hector Santiago is a recipient of the 2016 STEM Hero Award.
"I’m deeply honored and humbled to be the recipient of this prestigious award," said Velazquez, a research civil engineer in the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory of the U.S. Engineer Research and Development Center. "I should admit, I was stunned when I learned from Dr. Holland [ERDC director] that I won the HENAAC award. This was a total surprise!"
Velazquez is a member of the Society of American Military Engineers and a lifetime professional member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. He is a founding member of the Mississippi Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
"It is an honor to be recognized by HENAAC," said Santiago, a project manager for the Environmental Remediation Branch, Planning, Programs and Project Management Division of the USACE Omaha District. "The Corps provided me the chance to reach out to the community, and help others obtain their dreams."
Santiago's community involvement includes the Heartland Latino Leadership, Kiwanis Club, Metro Young Latino Professionals Association, and the American GI Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to provide services and academic scholarships to veteran families.
Toy has been associated HENAAC and Great Minds in STEM since 2004 and has been particularly active in USACE STEM initiatives over the past 6 years.
"As we, Prepare for Tomorrow, the Corps must recruit the best and brightest young people into our ranks," said Toy. "HENAAC attracts those talented and dedicated young Hispanic professionals from across the Nation and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to talk to some of these aspiring engineers and scientists about possible opportunities with the Corps."