DAF members recognized during BEYA STEM awards

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Adam R. Shanks
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Two Department of the Air Force members received awards during the 2024 Black Engineer of the Year Awards, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics conference held at the Baltimore Convention Center, Maryland, Feb. 15-17. 
At the 19th Annual Stars and Stripes Dinner Feb. 16, an Air Force Airman and a Space Force Guardian were recognized for their accomplishments in STEM-related fields over the past year. 
Department of the Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall explained how STEM fields are vital in Great Power Competition and how leveraging diverse talents plays an integral part in national defense. 
“The Air and Space Force rely on the best leaders and technical experts in the world,” Kendall said. “They perform our mission and keep America secure from growing threats. I’m grateful for everything the STEM community does to advance that mission. The DAF has the best talent our country has to offer.” 
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin joined distinguished guests onstage to introduce Lt. Col. Shari Perkins, the Air Force’s annual award winner. A prior enlisted Airman, Perkins holds multiple advanced degrees and now serves in the DAF’s executive action group. Additionally, Perkins led projects that yielded more than $25,000 in funding for 40 STEM-related scholarships for youth. 
“I can tell you from personal observation, her work ethic is as strong as her personality,” Allvin said. “In 2023, she took the reins and shepherded the development of the Air Force’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility strategic plan, ensuring that we had purposeful approaches to recruiting, outreach and retention.” 
U.S. Space Force Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. Michael Guetlein took the stage to introduce the Space Force’s annual award winner, Brig. Gen. Jacob Middleton. Middleton, a career missile officer, who currently serves as the deputy director for operations at the National Military Command Center in Washington, D.C. 
“[Middleton] embodies honor, courage and commitment,” Guetlein said. “He’s highly regarded in the Air and Space Force, having received the National Reconnaissance Office gold medal and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal … I could not be more thrilled that you’re honoring this battle-tested warrior.” 
The BEYA STEM conference is a three-day event held annually for more than three decades, focusing on minorities with professional interests in STEM fields. It offers high school and college students; as well as corporate, government and military professionals; an opportunity to come together to participate in networking, mentorship sessions, learning opportunities and recognition ceremonies.