February 26, 2024

Alumnus Nahum Alem, B.S. ASE 2018, was presented with the Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) Modern-Day Technology Leader Award at the 2024 BEYA DTX Conference on Feb. 16. The awards, presented annually at the BEYA STEM conference, are granted to individuals in the workforce for their outstanding work in the field of STEM.

“Nahum was selected because he is among an extraordinary group of forward-thinking STEM experts,” said Tyrone D. Taborn, chairman of the BEYA STEM DTX Conference. “This year the candidates were the strongest and represented the most diverse collection of executive professionals we have had the pleasure of evaluating. From machine learning to medical breakthroughs, this year’s BEYA STEM awardees stand out as superior authorities in their respective fields.”

Alem currently works as an aerospace engineer at the NASA Ames Research Center and answered a few questions for us about the award and his UT experience.

What does it mean for you to be recognized with this award?

This award means so much to me. It’s an honor and a privilege to be recognized among fellow STEM professionals across the country. I was extremely humbled to be on stage with other award winners. I’m thankful for the help and support of my colleagues, family and friends. I’ve been fortunate with the guidance I’ve received in my career, and this award motivates me to pay it forward to the next generation.

Tell us about your current position at NASA.

I work on the flight dynamics team at NASA Ames, where we provide orbital mechanics support in all mission phases, from mission design to launch and operations. I’m currently the flight dynamics lead for the Starling mission, which is now seven months into operations after launching last summer!

How did your experience as a UT aerospace engineering student help you get where you are today?

Being a part of student projects and organizations helped me so much, especially with problem-solving, teamwork and communications skills. These skills are very important in my role at NASA. In addition to soft skills, I use what I learned in my aerospace engineering courses every day at my job. I keep textbooks from my orbital mechanics, spacecraft mission design and spacecraft dynamics classes at my desk that I reference often.

What advice would you offer to minorities pursuing a career in aerospace/STEM?

My advice to students pursuing STEM is to not let anyone make you feel like you don’t belong. It is common to have feelings of self-doubt when working in a challenging field. There are many ways to cope with these feelings, but I’ve found that reaching out to mentors for practical advice and support really helps me overcome this. Above all, make sure to choose a discipline you enjoy!