Air Force members win Black Engineer of the Year Awards

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Senior leader officials recognized two Air Force members at the 32nd Black Engineer of the Year Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Global Competitiveness Conference, Feb. 9, 2018, in Washington, D.C., for exceptional achievements in STEM career fields.

Timothy K. Bridges, Headquarters Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering and force protection at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virgina, received the Black Engineer of the Year Career Achievement in Government Award. Maj. Brendan O’Neal, 14th Air Force analysis and assessment branch chief, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, was presented the Black Engineer of the Year Award.

While speaking at the event Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson emphasized the importance of having role models like Bridges and O’Neal for future leaders to emulate.

“Those of you who spent the afternoon here inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists taught us a lesson…the obligation doesn’t end here,” she said. “Your stories light the way for the next generation to follow…it’s our obligation to open doors to opportunity.”

Bridges has served in the Air Force for more than 38 years, first while on active duty and subsequently as a member of the federal Senior Executive Service. As an SES, he established a way ahead for the Air Force’s Community Partnership Program enhancing small business opportunities.

He has fostered alignment across all levels of the Air Force, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and its sister services by ensuring unity of effort for Airmen. Under his leadership, he rallied the support of stakeholders and the undersecretary of the Air Force to reduce 359 logistics information technology systems spread across 73 program elements to improve modernization.

While Bridges moved those elements toward modern integrated systems with greater capability, better connectivity, and fewer redundancies, O’Neal served on missions to procure, develop, and employ new technologies and systems.

O’Neal was the chief analyst determining effectiveness and suitability for new aircraft, weapons and avionics for Air Combat Command. He developed the test methodology for an F-16 Fighting Falcon towed decoy analysis, increasing F-16 survivability by 75 percent.

“He did deep analytical work to increase the lethality of fighters flying various missions,” said Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Stephen Wilson who presented O’Neal the award. “He also developed tools to make sure planes and pilots can fly and survive in places that make our enemy very, very uncomfortable. He’s been relentless as a mentor of Airmen, as a church volunteer and as a standup tutor.”

According to the award citation, O’Neal also advocates STEM education by tutoring students in mathematics and showing his support of STEM curricula and mentorship through programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters. Through all his achievements, both on-duty and off-duty, O’Neal has demonstrated exemplary character and outstanding ability.

“This win is extremely humbling and means the world to me,” O’Neal said.

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