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NEWS | Jan. 24, 2021

Two NSWC Panama City Division engineers win the Black Engineer of the Year Awards

By Cierra Burch NSWC PCD Public Affairs

Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) engineers, Sarah “Ashley” Catlin and Chinyere Ukazim “UK”, were recently awarded Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) in the Outstanding Achievement Awards (OAA) category.

Catlin was selected to receive the BEYA OAA Science Spectrum Trailblazer award which recognizes minority men and women actively creating new paths for others in science, research, technology, and development. Recipients of this award distinguish themselves by constantly setting their sights higher, striving to innovate, and opening doors for others. Catlin is a senior test engineer, systems engineer, and human factor engineer at NSWC PCD. She is the test lead for the Joint Expeditionary Command and Control (JEXC2) Program of Record and her primary responsibility is to assist in managing, developing, and leading a team comprised of test directors, testers, and subject matter experts in hardware, software, and networking. Catlin has led multiple test and training events around the world in support of JEXC2 missions, has directed the majority of customer deliveries for the past two years, and is steadfast in reducing risk to the project and organization.

Catlin shares her excitement and honor to be a recipient of a BEYA award.

“Nine years ago I attended my first BEYA conference and I remember the admiration I had for those being honored and receiving awards,” said Catlin. “I am both humbled and ecstatic to be on the same platform as the ones that I once admired. Additionally, I feel pride in knowing that my organization recognized my contributions and saw fit to nominate me for this award.”

Ukazim was selected to receive the BEYA OAA Modern-Day Technology Leader award, which recognizes bright women and men who are shaping the future of engineering, science, and technology. Ukazim has utilized his technical skills as the In-Service Engineering Agent (ISEA) Lead for Navy Nonlethal Effects (NNLE). Ukazim has assisted on systems that attempt to safely modify behavior and enhance response capabilities for the fleet operators. Under his leadership, the services provided by the NNLE ISEA ensures fleet operator concerns and problems are addressed promptly and accurately for the protection of those service members without the use of lethal force.

Additionally, Ukazim consistently gives back to his community in his country of birth in Nigeria. He and his four other relatives that migrated to the United States have identified and initiated community service projects within their home village in Nigeria. The projects have ranged widely from providing educational scholarships to initiating infrastructure improvements. He has provided students in need with scholarships to promote education where there is a lack of opportunities to obtain higher education.

Ukazim has also worked with local Nigerian civil engineers to design and fund road and drainage system improvements, making the village more accessible to the region, which improved transportation and commerce. Two of his most impactful projects that he has undertaken are the installation of a safe drinking water system and bringing electrical power to the village. These projects not only improved the quality of life and stability of those living in the village, but also inspire students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and career fields.

Ukazim continues to show his humility when receiving notification of his recognition.

“I felt honored and humbled about the nomination and the award. I never knew that something I am passionate about can bring this type of award and recognition,” said Ukazim. “As an immigrant from a tiny village in Nigeria, this means anything is possible and the sky is the limit”

Catlin and Ukazim will be recognized during the 2021 BEYA STEM Virtual Conference held February 11-13 along with all of the other BEYA STEM award recipients. For more information, visit