Companies have been striving to be the best in their respective field of services and products. Continuous improvement on the part of the management and commitment on the part of the employees is very important to stay competitive especially in the ever-growing market of society. It is not thus surprising that companies strive to earn distinguishing marks of excellence such as world-class awards. One of the most prestigious awards that can be received is the Golden Torch Award.
Unlike all other awards, the Golden Torch Award stands out from the rest because it is not only an award of excellence but also of justice and fairness on how the company treats employees regarding their race. Purpose and Background The National Society of Black Engineers, famously known as NSBE, initiated the Golden Torch Awards in the year 1997. However, no exact date is available as to when the first Golden Torch Awards has been held. The NSBE is a preeminent organization that seeks to serve blacks in the fields of engineering and technology (2008 GTA Winners).
The organization was pioneered by students of Purdue University in 1971. As the campus student organization flourished in Purdue, the charter members encouraged and coordinated with different universities throughout the country offering engineering courses. Thus, in 1975, the organization became national with over 30 school chapter organizations. The group’s well-known torch symbol represents the member’s everlasting and burning desire to achieve the success in a competitive society resulting to a positive effect on the quality of life for people from all walks of life.
The organization seeks to make an impact on society and the world by the accomplishments and contributions of its members to engineering, technology and even in the academe (NSBE Mission). The Golden Torch Award is just one of the many activities that the NSBE has imparted to the society. The said award wishes to recognize brilliance among African-American engineers, scientists and technologists, including organizations that have exhibited a commitment to the recruitment, retention and promotion of minorities (Siebels, 2004, p. 329).
It honors different companies, institutions and individual persons who enhance their professions and the world with outstanding intelligence, competent talent and vibrant vision at the same time serving as role models for everyone in advancing opportunities for African-Americans (DiScipio). Furthermore, the award links accomplishments of its awardees with the dreams of college-bound students. The Golden Torch Award is bestowed every year on the annual convention of NSBE, which seeks to raise scholarship funds for deserving high school students (2008 GTA Winners). Award Criteria
The mission of NSBE is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and impact the community positively” (NSBE Mission). It is thus understandable that the Golden Torch Award is designed to highlight the achievements of distinguished black engineers and technical professionals together with incoming college students (US Navy). Golden Torch Awardees are usually chosen by scrutinizing resumes, professional achievements, community service and other criteria depending on the type of category of the award.
A team of judges consisting of professional and academic leaders both in the field of science and engineering selects the winners of the award (Black Engineers). There are no specific criteria available for the award. Additionally, it will be very arduous to do so since the Golden Torch Award is but a general term for numerous awards varying in category. Nevertheless, the objectives of the NSBE can be a great estimation of the factors that determine the qualifications for awardees.
The NSBE has five objectives to undertake. First is to motivate and develop student interests in the various engineering disciplines. The organization’s second objective is to make a great effort in amplifying the number of minority students learning engineering at undergraduate and graduate levels. The third is to tender assistance to members searching for advanced degrees in the field of engineering or its related fields and obtaining professional engineering registrations.
Fourth is promoting public awareness of engineering and the opportunities for minorities in their respective professions. Fifth is to act as ambassadors regarding issues and innovations that may affect careers of black engineers (NSBE Mission). These different objectives of the organization are met in one way or another in the criteria used for judging of Golden Torch Award winners. Awards given are numerous and have different titles.
In the year 2000, the awards given are: National Chair’s Award for Leadership in Technology, Executive Leader of the Year, Achievement Award, Lifetime Achievement in Academia, Lifetime Achievement in Government, Lifetime Achievement in Industry, Pioneer of the Year, Outstanding Woman in Technology, Mike Shin’s Distinguished Fellow of the Year, Distinguished Engineer, Diversity Leadership in Industry, Diversity Leadership in Government, Corporate Community Service, Corporate/Education Partnership, Executive Director’s Award for Advancing Diversity, Pre-College Community Service, High School of the Year, Pre-College Program of the Year, Pre-College Student of the Year, Academic Visionary, Graduate Student of the Year, Minority Engineering Program Director, Pre-College Initiative Program of the Year, Chapter of the Year, Technologist of the Year and Member of the Year (Black Engineers). Additional awards given this 2008 include Janice A. Lumpkin Educator of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year and Corporate Diversity Leadership Award (2008 GTA Winners). Benefits of the Award
Although there are no tangible benefits that the Golden Torch Award can offer, it still speaks of the prestige that its awardees can possess. The honor and the promotion somehow provide the awardees’ company popularity and quality assurance that customers and consumers seek out. The said award becomes a showcase of the high standards that a company achieves throughout its existence. It also brings about the respect and gives the image that the company not only offers quality service but also social responsibility. It can speak of the capable and proficient workforce a corporation may have. As a liaison officer of the US Navy commented, the bestowal of the award can be a great opportunity to acknowledge professionalism (US Navy).
Receiving the award, companies and individuals can also avail of the different programs that the NSBE offers such as academic excellence programs, scholarships, leadership trainings, professional development and career opportunities in the field of engineering and technology (NSBE Mission). Nevertheless, to think further a bit, the award has its disadvantage too. Since the NSBE is a group that uplifts racial equality, radical groups that favor racial discrimination may condemn the awardees or the companies. Terrorist groups may instill fear to people that support such groups. Moreover, this threat is not utterly dangerous as long as the companies and organizations have appropriate security measures at hand. Past Winners of the Award Winners of the Golden Torch Award have been credited for their outstanding performance and significant contributions in the field of engineering and technology.
One example is United Technologies Corp. (UTC), which is the 2005 Corporate Diversity Leadership. The corporation was appreciated for its professional achievements and commitment to diversity initiatives (DiScipio). UTC works for force diversity, education and community outreach to minority groups. Competently, the company is a dealer of a wide range of high technology products and support services to aerospace and building systems industries. Other past individual winners are Alan Gilkes, Sandra Baylor and Dawn Robinson. Alan Gilkes was awarded Distinguished Engineer of the Year in 2000 for his invention of an electronic Braille display device.
Sandra Baylor was winner of the Lifetime Achievement in Industry Award, having seven patents whereas Dawn Robinson, a product manager, is the recipient of the Outstanding Woman in Technology Award (Black Engineers). This year’s award list is as follows: Woodrow Whitlow Jr. , Distinguished Engineer of the Year; Rickey J. Shyne, Lifetime Achievement in Government; Juan E. Gilbert, Pioneer of the Year; Celia D. A. Earle, Outstanding Woman in Technology; Arthur L. George, Lifetime Achievement in Industry; Lorraine N. Fleming, Janice A. Lumpkin Educator of the Year; Cheryle L. Peters, Minority Engineering Program Director of the Year; Jonathan D. Madison, Graduate Student of the Year; Michael A. Thompson, Pre-College Initiative Student of the Year(Male); Kathryn M.
Daniels, Pre-College Initiative Student of the Year(Female); Pre-Freshman Program in Engineering and Science, Chicago State University, Pre-College Program of the Year; Benedict Lazare, Entrepreneur of the Year; Dow Promise Program, The Dow Chemical Company, Corporate Community Service; UNCF-Merck Initiative, Merck & Co. , Inc. , Corporate/Education Partnership; Texas Instruments Incorporated, Corporate Diversity Leadership; Akibi Archer, Mike Shinn Distinguished Member of the Year(Male); Wanda Eugene, Mike Shinn Distinguished Member of the Year(Female); Barbara Michelle Nichols, Alumni Extension Member of the Year; and, Edward Tunstel, Alumni Extension Technologist of the Year (2008 GTA Winners). The awardees surely received the honor due to their innovative contributions and achievements. Conclusion
In essence, the Golden Torch Award is an excellence in leadership and quality award. Taking this into consideration, a nomination of the Lockheed Martin Corp. is not a bad idea. Lockheed Martin is a leading international defense contractor that operates on aeronautics, electronics and information technology services as well as space and strategic missiles thus employing a large number of work forces from all over the world. The diversity and quality assurance that the company brings to its customers and employees is worthy of a Golden Torch Award by the NSBE. It would not be a long time before the company is acknowledged for its contributions in the field of defense technology.
References DiScipio, J.United Technologies Corporation. (2004, December 14). Society of Black Engineers honors UTC for Diversity Leadership. Retrieved May 8, 2008, from http://utc. com/press/releases/2004-12-14. htm. National Society of Black Engineers. (2008, March 3). 2008 GTA Winners: Top Engineers, Corporate Supporters win NSBE ‘Golden Torch’ Honors. Retrieved May 8, 2008, from http://national. nsbe. org/Default. aspx? tabid=138. National Society of Black Engineers. (2000, March 10). Black Engineers are Recognized for their Contributions, Winners Exemplify the Importance of Mentors. Retrieved May 11, 2008, from http://www. nsbe. org/downloads/pr/press/gta00. pdf.
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