PASADENA, CALIF. -- Eva B. Vélez, Chief Ecosystem Branch/Program Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District was recently presented her award as Great Minds in STEM Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Association Conference (HENAAC) award winner, Professional Achievement II for 2022.
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, 55th Chief of Engineers, Commanding General, USACE lauded Vélez and two other USACE HENAAC winner for their accomplishments.
“It is with distinguished honor that we present the 2022 Great Minds in STEM (GMiS)- Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Association Conference (HENAAC) award winners,” said Spellmon. “Our winners represent the talented and exceptional professionals who are leading the way for our world-class organization.”
Vélez received the award at the 34th Annual GMiS Conference awards ceremony in Pasadena, Ca.
“I’m thankful for this award,” said Vélez. “I have realized that I stand a little taller when I get to say the words, “I am an engineer,” and feel deep gratitude for the chance that accepting this honor has given me to reflect upon my career.”
Vélez was recognized as a STEM Hero Award recipient for her contributions and service to the Corps of Engineers. She has served as the Strategic Program Manager and Branch Chief for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration program, which has experienced unprecedented growth under her leadership.
Great Minds in STEM Inc., is a Non-Federal entity that hosts an annual GMiS Conference. The conference creates professional connections between students, educators, and STEM professionals while yielding coalitions and partnerships with educational institutions, industry, and government agencies. This event is of critical interest to the Department of Defense, organizations, activities, and research centers that require military and civilian personnel within the STEM career field. The GMiS Conference provides organizations with a platform to conduct outreach for the recruitment of Engineers, Scientists, Mathematicians, and Information Technologists.
For over three decades, Great Minds in STEM has showcases our nation’s most talented Hispanic STEM professionals within military branches, civilian agencies, research laboratories and technical commands that fall under the direction of either the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.
Vélez currently oversees a $20 Billion dollar program, with $1 Billion dollars in active construction in fiscal year 2022 and an anticipated $3.5 billion in construction contract awards in fiscal year 2023, to achieve the largest ecosystem restoration project in the world.
Vélez is the Department of Army’s lead day-to-day coordinator with U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, State of Florida, and 50 other agencies to lead ecosystem restoration and resiliency efforts for one of our nations most populated areas. Her incredible leadership of a team of over 25 team members is having a national and worldwide impact in America’s Everglades.
Vélez said her path to leading the restoration of America’s Everglades was a winding one – from her days as a student at the University of Florida, where she found out the profession of engineering was her passion to working in the private sector where she honed her technical skills in design.
“After a few twists and turns, I fell in love with the Everglades and was granted a huge opportunity by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Vélez.
Booth said Vélez’s achievements with the South Florida Water Management District, and her extraordinary performance as the lead person and subject matter expert of the largest ecosystem restoration project in the world has made a national and worldwide impact in America’s Everglades.
“She holds to the highest Army values through an exemplary performance on this historical ecosystem restoration,” said Booth. “Her accomplishments are a testament to her passion for public service, outstanding performance along with her great attitude for service significantly contributes to the success of the Jacksonville District team and contributes to the mission of USACE.”
Vélez says she especially thanks her handsome and brilliant husband, Jesse Markle for his love, support and believing in her as an engineer.
Tim Murphy, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, Deputy District Engineer for Project Management accompanied Vélez and said she is well deserving of her award.
“I am honored that he traveled across the country to celebrate this moment with me during his last few weeks before his own retirement,” said Vélez. “Thank you for giving me a professional home when I most needed it.”
Vélez said this award and experience has caused her to realized that she stands a little taller when she gets to say the words, ‘I am an engineer,’ and feels deep gratitude for the chance of accepting this honor has given her the time to reflect upon her career. “For that, I thank you,” said Vélez.
“I thank all of my USACE team mates, and thank Great Minds in STEM for giving me the opportunity to accept this award,” said Vélez .