News: Craft recognized as BEYA STEM Science Spectrum Trailblazer
Story by Sandra Arnold
GALVESTON, Texas – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District Civil Engineer Franchelle Craft was selected as a Science Spectrum Trailblazer Award recipient by the 28th Black Engineer of the Year Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Global Competitiveness Conference, an honor bestowed upon minority men and women who actively create new paths for others in science, research, technology and development.
Hired by the district as a summer hire during her senior year at Prairie View A&M University, she was selected as a Department of the Army intern and assigned to the district’s Engineering and Construction Division.
“I would like to thank the leadership of the Galveston District for recognizing the importance of the STEM Program and allowing me the time to spread the love that I have for the engineering field to younger students,” said Craft.
According to Commander Col. Richard Pannell, USACE Galveston District, Craft was instrumental in the execution of the district’s STEM Awareness Program; an aggressive community outreach and public information campaign which seeks to build relationships between the employees and underrepresented middle and high school students to encourage an interest in STEM courses and the pursuit of engineering and science career fields. The innovative campaign included partnering with nationally-recognized STEM organizations, higher education institutions and using social media to maximize outreach efforts to encourage current and future generations of students to pursue careers in STEM fields.
“She dedicated more than 100 hours throughout the year to help close the performance gap in underrepresented students’ STEM educational achievement,” said Pannell. “Franchelle’s efforts not only provided direct contact with target audiences, she effectively told the Army’s story and was essential in helping the district to mentor youth and attract females and minorities to work in STEM-related fields. Her efforts will have a lasting positive impact on those who may one day join the district and become part of our workforce.”
Now a supervisory project engineer in the Houston Resident Office, working on dredging construction contracts for the Houston Ship Channel, Craft offers the following advice for rising stars in the engineering field, “work hard, believe in what you do and make every decision in the best interest of your organization.”
As one of the youngest supervisory engineers in the district, Craft oversees contract construction administration and leads the technical support effort for the Resident Management System to administer construction, operation and maintenance projects valued up to several millions of dollars. Despite her challenging schedule, she remains active in supporting the professional development of others who are pursuing a STEM education.
“Through her role at USACE, Franchelle worked on many educational outreach activities with PVAMU,” said Dr. Raghava Kommalapati, professor and interim department head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at PVAMU. “Franchelle is a frequent visitor to our campus, spends time with our students and helps them to develop professionally. Her most recent efforts led to a memorandum of agreement between the Corps and College of Engineering at PVAMU.”
Last year, USACE leadership signed a partnership agreement with PVAMU to recommit the two organizations to work together to enhance opportunities for minority students throughout the Corps. The partnership assists the district in recruiting a workforce comprised of a diverse pool of high-performing individuals, with valuable talents and strengths that are critical to providing excellent services to all Corps customers.
“With 19 percent of the Corps’ 36,600 workforce qualifying for immediate retirement and 22 percent for early retirement, the world’s largest public engineering firm is faced with a shrinking pool of graduates who are critical to mission success and national security,” said Pannell. “It is people like Franchelle, who are setting the example, helping to bring awareness to this growing issue and forming essential partnerships to encourage more students to pursue careers in STEM.”
Craft earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Prairie View A&M University in 2006 and a master’s degree in Engineering Management from Missouri Science and Technology University in 2012. She is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society and the Society of American Military Engineers.
Craft will be recognized at the 28th BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference, Feb. 6, 2014, in Washington, D.C., for this achievement.
For more information about the BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference Award visit www.beya.org. For news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.