FORT MEADE, Md. - For their outstanding demonstration of leadership and technical expertise in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), two National Security Agency (NSA) employees received 2023 Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) awards.
NSA’s Crystal Hayden and Quentin Johnson received the awards during the BEYA STEM conference last month.
“The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) group makes an intentional effort to sponsor events celebrating diverse STEM talent and highlighting their outstanding contributions. Crystal and Quentin’s BEYA award is a testament to all the stellar work that NSA colleagues do on a daily basis,” said DEIA Outreach Advocate Cam Marshall.
BEYA awards honor significant contributions in STEM and aim to advance the collective STEM workforce of the future.
Outstanding Technical Contributor
Hayden, the director of resources for the Central Security Service (CSS), received the Outstanding Technical Contribution in Government Award.
“Crystal is well-deserving of this award,” said one of Hayden’s nominators, Business Management & Acquisition Director Diane Dunshee. “She is an intelligent, passionate leader who values IT agility and business system improvement.”
Hayden is recognized for leading a team in the development, integration, and implementation of a comprehensive program to modernize the Agency’s business and financial systems.
“This recognition shows that everybody has a role in technology development,” Hayden said of the BEYA award. “A year from now, I would like to continue contributing to the development of additional business information technology (IT) products at NSA to enable data-driven resource decisions.”
Leader in Modern Day Technology
Johnson, a software engineer, received BEYA’s Modern-Day Technology Leader Outstanding Achievement Award.
“Quentin is an exemplary employee with a fantastic balance of technical and communication skills,” said Johnson’s nominator, Paula Jacks, the NSA/CSS Georgia (NSAG) K-12 academic outreach coordinator.
Johnson began volunteering for the K-12 Academic Outreach program in March 2021 and was selected to be lead presenter in an NSA hands-on cyber challenge offered to students, known at the time as the “Aiken Challenge.” Johnson built a completely new prototype and virtual machine, coded the software, and drafted the story narrative for the challenge. His final proof-of-concept ensured K-12 schools could compete nationwide annually.
Nearly 600 students from 11 public schools in Aiken County learned about cryptanalysis and cyber forensics by playing the game during the 2021–22 academic school year.
“The ‘Aiken Challenge’ answered an academic Agency outreach gap for secondary schools never before addressed,” Jacks said. “[Quentin] has made an incredible impact to both NSAG and the local Georgia-South Carolina community in the short time he has been here.”