For U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District Deputy Commander Maj. Jordon Davis, the 2019 Black Engineer of the Year’s (BEYA) Modern Day Technology Leader award has dual meanings.
"It validates everything I have done as an engineer and encourages me to go forward and continue to do great things for the Army and my family," Davis said.
Although he has received numerous military awards throughout his 13-year career, Davis said the BEYA award is the first national award he has received solely based upon his engineering achievements, which makes the award extra special from a professional perspective.
On a personal level, Davis said the award has even greater meaning because it is another first in a lifetime of firsts.
"I was the first in my family to graduate from college and to earn two graduate degrees," he said. "I do what I do for my daughters, my cousins and my nephews. If Jordon Davis can do it, then they can believe they can do it, too."
Davis’ oldest daughter, who will graduate from high school in May, is an example of that as she will receive not only her high school diploma but her associate’s degree when she walks across the stage.
"I do what I do for them, because I don’t want a generation to be lost again," Davis said, explaining that his mother has a high school education and that growing up he didn’t have many role models until he joined the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps as a freshman in high school.
"It taught me to: No. 1, be someone in life and No. 2, to be someone as a military officer in engineering," he said.
The engineering part came naturally to him as a child he was constantly taking things apart and putting them back together and he even taught himself how to fix his mother’s dryer, Davis said.
As a leader in the Corps of Engineers with a vested interest in the Corps’ future, Davis has a unique understanding of the challenges associated with recruiting and retaining young science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) professionals.
"We are great at developing talent, but we aren’t great at hiring it," he said.
In order to remedy the situation, Davis said the New Orleans District is at all local and regional job fairs. Furthermore, the District has taken the initiative to sign memorandums of understanding with major engineering institutions like the University of New Orleans, Tulane University and Texas A&M University.
"Human resources is game of offense and retention," he said. "You have to reach out to the talent and you have to make them feel part of the team and create buy-in."
Every day is a training day, and an employee should be better at the end of Day 50 than they were on Day One, he said.
Additionally, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District’s Thomas West, a geotechnical engineer, received a "Most Promising Engineer" award the Black Engineer of the Year award conference as well.