ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. –
Brandon Bennett earned a Career Communications Group’s U.S. Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine 2023 Science Spectrum Trailblazer award.
He will be recognized during the Black Engineer of the Year STEM Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, Feb. 10.
Bennett serves as an engineer and subject matter expert at Defense Contract Management Agency’s Aircraft Integrated Maintenance Operations in St. Augustine, Florida.
“It feels amazing to be honored with this award,” said Bennett, who has been with the agency 12 years. “It feels like my work in helping the functional specialists at the operational unit and agency level is not unnoticed and is useful. This award is special to me because it is recognized not only within DCMA, but with all defense agencies.”
Bennett noted the importance of more women and minorities exploring the science, technology, engineering and math career fields.
“We need more minorities and women in STEM careers because it helps to increase the aperture of ideas and solutions through varying perspectives,” he said. “The reason diversity is so important in the industry, and the world, is because we often provide solutions based on the interactions and experiences that we have encountered in our life, whether they are good or bad. The differences in culture, race, creed and sex help to ensure that all the solutions from our life experiences are used to determine the best solutions.”
Navy Capt. Jeff Carty, DCMA AIMO commander, and James Olson, DCMA AIMO technical director and Bennett’s supervisor, nominated him for the award.
“This honor is extremely well deserved … Bennett is an invaluable member of the AIMO staff,” said Carty. “As a recent graduate of DCMA’s Emerging Leader Program, he has demonstrated a commitment to continued advancement at the agency. We rely on him heavily to lead process improvement initiatives and keep the team focused on mission execution.”
Olson echoed Carty’s comments referring to Bennett as a multi-functional expert and all-around star employee that any manager would want on their team.
“He does a superb job as an engineering subject matter expert and is a positive role model in this position who inspires others to work toward excellence,” Olson added. “The caliber of his technical expertise and initiative is nothing short of outstanding, and he provides a well-established foundation that will continue to deliver long-lasting benefits to DCMA.”
Bennett started his DCMA career as a Keystone quality assurance specialist at DCMA St. Petersburg in Florida. Prior to DCMA, Bennett was an engineer for the Directorate of Public Works at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
In his current role, Bennett develops tools and metrics to aid in the engineering functional specialists’ job duties. He serves approximately 200 technical specialists across seven contract management offices in 15 states. One of his recent initiatives involved identifying a training gap among the agency’s engineers in the emerging field of aircraft composite design and repair.
“Once identified, I created a training package for the DCMA engineers to attend a co-op training course with the Naval Aviation Station Jacksonville Fleet Readiness Center engineers on site at the local naval base,” said Bennett. “This resulted in more than 20 attendees receiving training in aircraft composites. None of the previously noted areas were being offered by either agency for training, so the engineers would not have been trained in those areas otherwise.”
Bennett has also developed metrics that aided in identifying poor performing contractors in non-conforming material generation, and he facilitated in the improvement of the contractors’ performance.
“It resulted in the reduction of several contractors’ nonconforming material generation by nearly 11 percent over the last two years,” he said. “This is estimated to have saved the government thousands in government re-inspection costs.”
Bennett graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He also has a master’s degree in general engineering from the University of Toledo in Ohio.
He chose engineering as a career because of his mother’s influence. She majored in computer science at Florida A&M University and later became a federal employee as a computer systems engineer. Bennet said his mother and his professional mentors contributed greatly to his success.
“There are so many mentors that I have been blessed to have in my life,” he stated. “However, the first person that comes to mind is James Melton at DCMA St. Petersburg, who became my first supervisor when I transitioned to a journeyman engineer. He mentored me to become the best engineer and leader I could be by always challenging my assumptions and never allowing me to stray from the things I may not understand. He recently passed away, but what he taught me will always stick with me.”
Bennett wants DCMA employees to mentor and encourage others to apply for the agency’s Keystone program, which provides interns with the leadership skills and knowledge to support our nation’s warfighters in a variety of capacities.
“It was in the Keystone program that I was able to gain a greater knowledge of the STEM fields of engineering, quality assurance and earned value analysis,” said Bennett. “After transitioning from the program, I was able to continue my engineering career with the agency and work with several well-known military defense programs and program offices, including the NASA Orion satellite exploration vehicle, Joint Strike Fighter, and the Air Force Global Positioning System. Through my efforts on those programs, I earned several letters of appreciation and recognition coins for my efforts to support the warfighter.”
Bennett’s future career goals include pursuing leadership roles as a director or deputy director at a DCMA contract management office and attending a leadership development program such as the Naval War College or Executive Leadership Program.
“I believe DCMA is the best and most influential agency in the world,” he said. “DCMA’s reach and impact extends across defense sectors, defense platforms, and even across countries. There are very few agencies that can say that.”
For more information about the BEYA conference, visit https://intouch.ccgmag.com/mpage/beya-home. The list of the 2023 Science Spectrum Trailblazers can be viewed at https://intouch.ccgmag.com/mpage/beya-award-winners.