CERDEC engineer awarded Visionary leadership award

From left, John Casner, executive director of the Northeastern Maryland Technology Council, awards the 2017 Visionary Award in Leadership to Dr. John Suarez of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center during an awards ceremony at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood Feb. 23.

CERDEC civilian honored for contributions in STEM education, technology advancement

A senior research engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground was one of 14 honorees awarded for contributions to the community toward building a science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, educated workforce and advancing technology and innovation.

Dr. John Suarez, of the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, also known as CERDEC, Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate, or I2WD, was a recipient of the Visionary Award for Leadership during the sixth annual Northeastern Maryland Technology Council, or NMTC, Visionary Award ceremony Feb. 23 at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood, Maryland.

“We are grateful to these individuals for helping our region grow to the next level,” said John Casner, executive director of NMTC. “Northern Maryland has changed and our economic infrastructure is increasingly focused on research and technology development. These are the individuals who are building the foundation for the future of our region.”

NMTC is a fast-growing technology council, connecting collaborative leaders in academia, industry and the federal government to build a STEM-educated workforce and advance innovation and technology growth to better the economy of this region and protect national security.

“We honor remarkable people who continue to play key roles in moving our region forward in the areas of STEM education and technology,” said NMTC Board Chair Michael Parker. “These are individuals who selflessly donate their time and talents to make a difference in their community.”

Setting the pace for success

The Visionary Award for Leadership recognizes work that sets the pace for success. According to the NMTC award nomination, the Leadership award acknowledges the recipient’s steadfast and consistent contribution to the advancement of STEM education or technology and innovation development in the region’s communities.

“As an Army civilian, I’m able to do work that is truly meaningful, and I’m grateful for that,” Suarez said. “My goal is to advance the technologies used by our brave men and women in uniform. Whether I’m able to do that through research and development—or mentoring our next generation of scientists and engineers so they can help in our mission—I’m privileged to do work that has an impact.”

Suarez has received U.S. patents for numerous innovations including interference cancellation, random-number generation for communication simulations, and wireless-channel characterization and equalization. He has also contributed to CERDEC Outreach through his participation in various STEM outreach events at the national and local levels.

“John’s commitment to STEM education and outreach is admirable,” said Frank Troisio, I2WD division chief. “He provides exemplary skills and resourcefulness, and I am proud to have nominated him for this prestigious award.”

Suarez has also participated two consecutive years as a judge in the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, or JSHS, in which college-bound students present research projects for Army, Navy, and Air Force‐funded scholarships.

He was also a volunteer in the annual “STEM in Scouting” event, sponsored by the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command, or RDECOM. During this event, RDECOM and CERDEC engineers provide simplified demonstrations of their work for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts at the APG campus.

An important theme of the event is how STEM‐related work relates to the outdoor activities in which the scouts commonly participate. Suarez designed a wireless motion‐detector system for the event and explained the various components of the system to the participants.

“It is wonderful to see members of the CERDEC science and technology staff like Dr. Suarez recognized for their commitment to STEM,” said Erica Bertoli, CERDEC Educational Outreach Program lead. “The success of STEM programs, not just at CERDEC, but across the community, rely on talented, dedicated individuals, like John, who are willing to give of their time and their experience to foster the next generation. The work organizations like NMTC do to highlight excellence in STEM is invaluable to the continuation of this work.”

Youth as a national resource

The CERDEC Outreach Program recognizes youth as a national resource. As it enters its 25th season of programming, it combines science and engineering with creative thinking and problem-solving activities. The program works to bring out the engineer in every child with the belief that building with blocks, drawing a picture, or simply imagining a different world allows children to use their natural creativity and apply it to the core concepts of STEM.

“I’m honored to receive this award,” Suarez said. “As you move along in your own journey, it’s important to give back and help others, and I’m grateful to the NMTC for [its] ongoing support of STEM mentors, educators, and innovators in the northeastern Maryland community. I’ve also been thinking about my own mentors and supervisors here at I2WD, who have been supportive of my work and have extended many opportunities to me over the years.”

By Ken Goss, CERDEC