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My Greatest Challenge

How Danielle Grant Overcame Financial Difficulties While Studying
By Lango Deen
Feb 7, 2017 - 11:26:34 AM

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It wasn't always a Daytona speedway for this young aerospace engineer from Florida.  Money woes almost derailed her college dreams. Now, less than five years into her career Danielle Grant is definitely on the fast track.

She is the first winner of the Dr. John Slaughter Award. The award is one of ten new awards that will be presented at the 2017 BEYA STEM Conference February 9-11. 

The new awards are named after past Black Engineers of the Year, who have achieved excellence, prestige, visibility, and distinction.

The Dr. John Brooks Slaughter Legacy Award recognizes significant accomplishment in Higher Education and Leadership. Dr. John Brooks Slaughter is a former Chancellor of the University of Maryland and the first African American to head the National Science Foundation. He received the very first Black Engineer of the Year Award in 1987.

Born and raised in Florida, Danielle's parents instilled in her a strong work ethic. Her blue collar father loved mechanics and rebuilt antique cars from the frame up. He then took his cars to the Daytona race track for drag racing and to measure his restoration efforts against competitors. Danielle's mother was the first in her family to go college and she encouraged her daughter to do the same.

After a year and a half at Embry-Riddle, Danielle found it difficult to bear the financial load of college so she transferred to a local community college to earn a degree and work part-time. In 2004, she earned an Associate of Arts in General Studies at the Daytona State College.

Three years later, Danielle finally graduated with her aerospace engineering degree from the University of Central Florida. In 2012, she completed an M.B.A. in Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

According to a 2015 Ohio State University study,  seven out of 10 college students feel stressed about their personal finances. Nearly 60 percent said they worry about having enough money to pay for school, while half are concerned about paying their monthly expenses.

The findings suggest that the pressures of student loan debt and finding ways to make ends meet are weighing on America's college students, said Anne McDaniel, co-author of the study. In fact, 32 percent of students reported neglecting their studies at least sometimes because of the money they owed.

As a key member of the Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Systems Integration Division of Leidos, Danielle Grant has made many contributions since joining the company in 2014.

Perhaps her most significant contribution is the Audio Multi-Level Security (A-MLS) system, which not only benefited the customer and U.S. combat troops, but provided value to Leidos and the Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Systems Integration Division.

The A-MLS system allows Remotely Piloted Aircraft operators to interact with multiple audio systems at different levels through a single headset. This system marks a substantial achievement in the field as it is the first system to fully integrate all remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) audio networks into a single headset.

The innovation improves human factors, RPA crew capabilities, and system security. The result is higher RPA crew effectiveness, which directly and positively impacts U.S. combat troops.

The system is installed in U.S. Air Force MQ-1 and MQ-9 combat enabled Ground Control Stations (GCS). This includes all air force MQ-1/9 GCSs operated by Air Combat Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and the Air National Guard. Perhaps most unique to A-MLS is the integration design and approach.

Below are short descriptions of the new awards at the BEYA STEM Conference

The Linda Gooden Legacy Award - Entrepreneurship
The Linda Gooden Legacy Award is named for the 2006 Black Engineer of the Year. Linda Gooden was the founding president of Lockheed Martin Information Technology. Before retiring, she led 31,000 Lockheed Martin employees and $8.8 billion in annual revenue.

The Lt. Gen. Albert J. Edmonds Legacy Award - Federal IT
The Lt. Gen. Albert J. Edmonds Legacy Award is named for the 1996 Black Engineer of the Year. The retired Air Force lieutenant general was director of the Defense Information Systems Agency. He also managed the National Communications Systems and directed the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.

The Lt. Gen. Joe N. Ballard Legacy Award - Public Engineering Services
The Lt. Gen. Joe N. Ballard Legacy Award is named after the 49th Chief of Engineers and Commander, United States Army Corps of Engineers. President Clinton appointed Lt. Gen Ballard to this prestigious position in 1996. LTG Ballard is the 1998 Black Engineer of the Year.

The Rodney C. Adkins Legacy Award - Business Transformation
2007 Black Engineer of the Year Rodney C. Adkins held several senior vice president roles at IBM, where he was responsible for leading transformation across IBM and developing strategies for a new era of computing, new markets, and new clients.

The Captain Donnie Cochran Legacy Award - Aviation
The Captain Donnie Cochran Legacy Award is named for the 1989 Black Engineer of the Year. The retired U.S. Navy captain is the first African American aviator selected as commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels.

The Dr. John Brooks Slaughter Legacy Award - Higher Education and Leadership
An expert in higher education and leadership, Dr. John Brooks Slaughter is a former Chancellor of the University of Maryland and the first African American to head the National Science Foundation. He received the very first Black Engineer of the Year Award in 1987.

The Anthony R. James Legacy Award - Utility
Retired Utility executive Anthony R. James served as president and CEO of Savannah Electric and Power Company from 2001 through 2005. In 2004, he was selected as Black Engineer of the Year.

The William R. Wiley Award - Research Science
William R. Wiley (1931-1996) was a lifelong believer in the ability of research to drive development and, through it, to change people's lives. He last served as Battelle Memorial Institute vice president and was the 1994 Black Engineer of the Year.

February 9-11, 2017
Washington Marriott Wardman Park
2660 Woodley Road NW

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