Two engineering students honored


Academic leadership award winners, Daziyah Sullivan (left) and Latarence Butts (right) for this year's BEYA Awards STEM Conference.
Photo Credit: FAMU FORWARD

This year’s 32nd annual BEYA, Black Engineers of the Year Awards STEM Conference was special for two Florida A&M University students.

Daziyah Sullivan, a second-year mechanical engineering student and Latarence Butts, a third-year senior electrical engineering student, were both honored with academic leadership awards at this year’s conference. They were cited for their academic excellence along with leadership within the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

According to, the BEYA conference is one of the largest national events designed to increase diversity within the STEM fields. The conference is also a networking opportunity, allowing professionals and students from a wide range of STEM-related fields to come together to create connections or share information and experiences.

This year’s BEYA Conference took place Feb. 8-10 and was held in Washington.

With a highly competitive selection process for the BEYA student leadership award, Butts said he was stunned when he learned that he was selected for the award.

“When I found out that I was an awardee, I was both excited and in disbelief. I really did not think that I would be selected for the award among so many qualified candidates,” Butts said.

However, through Butts’ hard work and success within his field, he truly exemplifies academic leadership.

He serves as the vice president of Tau Beta Pi Honor Society and also serves in several national student organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers. As an electrical engineering student, he also has developed an interest in research involving high-frequency devices and circuits.

Butts said this interest came about through a recent internship opportunity.

“While interning with Northrop Grumman in San Diego this past summer, I worked on a few communications payloads which I found very interesting. I followed that initial interest up with some coursework in semiconductors and electromagnetic fields two, and eventually, I began reading up on current research. Overall, I like the complexity and applicability of the topic,” he said.

Sullivan’s academic leadership can be traced back to her time in high school.

She was one of the two highest academic performing African-American students in Duval County public schools in 2016 and as a sophomore in college, she has already developed an interest in making renewable energy more affordable after attending a green-energy summer camp last year.

“During the green energy summer camp, I was able to put together solar toys and wind power toys. It was really interesting because these are toys that run off of the sun rather than the batteries. I was thinking if it is this easy to put it in a toy why can’t we put it this into a refrigerator or a microwave within a household? I want to be able to make it more affordable so that people can access it,” Sullivan said.

With Sullivan learning more information in her research and being able to maintain her academic success, she said the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering has helped her throughout her journey.

“The college of engineering is really unique because it pairs a leading HBCU with a leading research college and university. I was able to get an opportunity to intern with Ford this summer through companies visiting the school. This offer was opened to me through the program because they make sure their students have a lot of resources and can be able to speak with companies,” she said.

Butts said the college has influenced his career choice.

“The joint institution between FAMU and FSU is a unique and integrated environment that can be found in very few places around the world, and I think the students experience that on a day-to-day basis. In addition to a trend-setting environment, the engineering school has provided me an opportunity to grow in my research as an undergraduate,” Butts said.