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    FRCE engineer recognized as technology leader at Black Engineer of Year awards

    FRCE engineer recognized as technology leader at Black Engineer of Year awards

    Photo By Heather Wilburn | Jamaine Clemmons, second from right, Advanced Technology and Innovation (ATI) Team...... read more read more



    Story by Heather Wilburn 

    Fleet Readiness Center East

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – As the team lead for Advanced Technology and Innovation (ATI) Team at Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE), Jamaine Clemmons works to implement emerging technologies in support of naval sustainment operations. Since taking the reins of the group, he and the team have taken on more than 50 advanced technology projects that aim to capitalize on strategic investments at FRCE and small business research efforts within the Navy.

    This work – along with ATI Team’s educational outreach and his mentorship of junior engineers – earned Clemmons recognition as a Modern Day Technology Leader during the 2023 Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference, held in February in National Harbor, Maryland. The annual conference showcased career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math for more than 10,000 students, government and military organizations, and private industry participants.

    “Jamaine has distinguished himself as a leader in providing vision and guidance to the development and implementation of new technologies within the naval sustainment community,” said FRCE Executive Director Mark Meno. “His team’s efforts have had significant impacts to flightline readiness across the Naval Aviation Enterprise, and the projects they are spearheading will help modernize and improve operations.”

    Clemmons said he was humbled by the recognition, which he considers a testament to the hard work and success of the ATI Team as a whole, rather than to himself as an individual.

    “Our team is really good at what they do,” he explained. “They’re always looking to lean forward, because a lot of what we do, we’re doing for the first time. Technology isn’t for the faint of heart, and it isn’t for everybody; it takes a unique skill set and very dedicated people, and this award is just as much, if not more, about them then about me.

    “Our goal is to make a difference, whether that’s from a forward-deployed standpoint or technologies that we look to adopt locally to improve the way we do business,” Clemmons continued. “All of that rolls into our main goal of supporting the warfighter, and this recognition is a good indication that we’re doing that well.”

    The team is currently working with two projects Clemmons believes can make a significant impact within the naval sustainment community: digital tracking technology, and advanced polymer and metallic additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing.

    The digital tracking initiative uses passive and active radio frequency identification technology to locate items within a facility. The team hosted a successful demonstration of the technology in May, and continues to work toward implementation. While keeping tabs on parts and tools might seem like a routine task, it stands to have a meaningful effect on operations.

    “It isn’t a new technological concept overall, but it’s something the FRCs have sought for over a decade and, with continuous technology advancements, it stands to improve how we do business,” Clemmons said. “The intriguing part will be having the ability to use this technology to aggregate data at a macro level and make informed decisions that drive necessary change down to the micro level, and vice versa.”

    Additive manufacturing with advanced polymers and metallic materials also stands to have a substantial effect on sustainment operations.

    “This is a focus area we’re leaning into and looking to be at the forefront of, in terms of new machines, materials and application spaces. In the recent past, we’ve used additive manufacturing to quickly create prototypes, but we’re at the point now where we’re implementing it for usable end items,” Clemmons explained. “Once we establish metallic capability, we’ll be able to do a similar thing but with stronger material properties that will allow us to use those items from a structural perspective. The end goal is to be able to create usable parts, once they are qualified and certified, for things that are hard to get out of the supply system right now.”

    These two programs are high-visibility examples, but the team also focuses on initiatives that make a difference in the day-to-day efforts of the artisans, Sailors and Marines who maintain the fleet. Moving any of these advanced technologies from concept to implementation requires creating a vision for the project and then sticking to it, Clemmons said.

    “The team and I establish that vision for each effort: this is our North Star, these are our goals, these are the things we’re tracking toward,” he explained. “And sometimes we’ve got to come back to that vision to remind us why we’re doing this in the first place.”

    Clemmons also helps individuals set goals in his work as a mentor. Named the FRCE Mentor of the Year in 2019, his experience with mentorship has aided his progression in both personal and professional capacities, he said.

    “Mentorship is one of the core building blocks for success in any career,” Clemmons said. “You need somebody in your corner who’s not just going to tell you what you want to hear, but is going to tell you the truth because they truly care about you. Those are the values I look for in mentorship, and look to provide to my mentees. You need that support not just within your career, but in life, because it’s tough out here in the world.”

    Clemmons lost his father when he was just 12 years old, and the mentors who stepped in to support him at that time made a huge difference in his world.

    “At that age, I was at a fork in the road where I could have gone in a very bad direction really quickly,” he explained. “But I had family and a church family who really stepped up during that time and got me out of that dark space. At my worst, I had a mother, a pastor, uncles … people who stepped in and said they understood that I was hurting, but we needed to get me back on track. And honestly, I just wanted to make my father proud. That desire is what drove me, and to this day still drives me.”

    Another defining moment came when, while Clemmons was working as a production engineer at FRCE, his senior mentor asked him to consider where he wanted to position himself as he grew in his career – or, simply put, what he wanted to be when he grew up.

    “When I first got to FRC East, did I think that within 13 years I would be in this position? I did not,” Clemmons said. “But when I considered the future, the answer to my mentor was simple: I wanted to be someone who was able to make a difference. I wanted to take ownership of something and have pride in the work I do. And I feel like today I’m checking all of those boxes, which is a good place to be. I would never have thought that, 13 years into my career, I’d be getting one of these Black Engineer of the Year awards. It wasn’t on the list of things to do. But it came because of the hard work and the support system I had in place, from a young age to now. Mentorship is key.”

    Clemmons said representation of diverse backgrounds and perspectives is also important to ensure success within the next generation of innovative leaders who will shape the future of naval aviation. Honors like the BEYA awards can serve as an example of success to young learners who are interested in STEM careers but might not often see engineers who look or think like they do.

    “There is power in visualization and being able to see that you can break down walls and barriers, you can get there from here, and there is a pathway for doing that,” he said. “It’s good for kids to be able to see individuals who look like them succeeding in STEM career fields, and to see that individuals who are from a marginalized or minority group are able to step into these careers and be successful. When you’re recognized for an award like this, your contributions can influence somebody who may feel like they can’t make it, to make a difference as well.

    “We’re at a place where we’re influencing the next generation of engineers, scientists and innovators who will be able to do the things we can’t do today, as technology changes and they take it to the next level,” Clemmons continued. “It’s important for these young people to understand that they’re good at what they’re good at, regardless of their background or nationality. With strong work ethic, hard work and dedication, you can be the best at whatever you do. You can make those things happen.”

    Being named a Modern Day Technology Leader has given Clemmons reason to think about what he wants to achieve next in his own career, as well.

    “I’m going to look back on this moment and tell both of my boys about this phase in my career,” he said. “Regardless of what happens next, this is one of those milestones – but it also shows me there’s so much more I can do. The work’s not done, so the challenge now is how do I do more? How do I do it better? How do I improve upon this?

    “Now I look at what my next goals are, how we leverage these new technologies to get the organization there. As long as we stick to that core mission, everything else will take care of itself,” Clemmons added. “That’s what I tell my mentees: Find something you like to do, find something you’re good at and be darned good at it, and everything else will take care of itself.”

    FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.



    Date Taken: 03.20.2023
    Date Posted: 03.20.2023 14:25
    Story ID: 440770
    Location: CHERRY POINT, NC, US 
    Hometown: WILLIAMSTON, NC, US

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