Skip to content

HENAAC Award Category Descriptions

Executive Excellence

Individuals who are honored with this award are upper-level executives who have the responsibilities of a large department and budget. Honorees have twenty (20) plus years of experience in STEM. The Executive Excellence award has been divided into two categories to balance the playing field between organizations with revenues over and under $20 billion. Nominees from the military and government are classified by their organization’s total annual budget.

Outstanding Technical Achievement

Individuals who are awarded in this category have made a significant technological contribution to STEM through key research or by having designed, developed, managed or assisted in the development of a product, service, system or intellectual property.

Lifetime Achievement

Lifetime Achievement winners are individuals who are not executives , however they have given thirty (30) or more years of amazing service and commitment to STEM.

Professional Achievement – Level I and Level II

Honorees in these categories are well-established managers or have project responsibilities in a technical field and they have made significant contributions in that arena. Winners in this category are divided into two groups: Level I – 10 to 19 years of experience, and Level II – 20 to 29 years of experience.

Most Promising Engineer or Scientist – Advanced Degree

Award winners in this category are engineers or scientists with no more than nine (9) years work experience since earning a completed Masters or Doctoral degree. The candidate’s technical contributions should already demonstrate a promising career. Individuals currently enrolled in a masters or doctoral program do not qualify for this award.

Most Promising Engineer or Scientist – Undergraduate

Honorees receiving this award are engineers or scientists with no more than nine (9) years work experience and no higher than a bachelors degree completed. The candidate’s early technical contributions through the bachelor’s degree should already demonstrate a promising career.


This award was created to honor individuals involved in collegiate education across the United States. An award winner can be an educator, administrator, or coordinator who has demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting STEM education program awareness. Some examples of professionals eligible for this category include university deans, professors and MEP administrators.

Community Service

Individuals who are honored in this category have a long history of community service and go above and beyond in reaching young people, fellow professionals, seniors and other key groups not mentioned. Winners demonstrate leadership within the underserved and underrepresented STEM community through volunteer work, contributions and other activities that are NOT part of their current job description.

Santiago Rodriguez Diversity Award

Honorees in this category demonstrate that they have made a difference in an organization’s engagement approach to Hispanic advancement in education, job promotion, business development and the community. The individual MUST BE employed in the Diversity/Corporate Responsibility/Human Resource division of their respective organization. Also, the nominee for this category does not have to be Hispanic; however the work product of their efforts must have advanced and enhanced Hispanic workforce development within the organization and/or the Hispanic community.


The candidate in this category must own 50% or more of a thriving small or medium size STEM business with strong financial growth and more than ten employees and less than 500. The entrepreneur must be of Hispanic origin.

HENAAC Special Awards

To be considered for any one of the following special award categories, the nominee must be ranked among the top five candidates in one of the established professional categories. The Selection Committee will forward the nomination package to the Selection Committee Chairs (SCCS) for consideration in one of the four special award categories. These prestigious awards are not presented annually. They are only presented when the SCCS have determined that a candidate’s achievements merit this special recognition.

Engineer of the Year and/or Scientist of the Year

The Engineer and/or Scientist of the Year Award is presented for overall leadership and technical or scientific achievement. These individuals are selected from among the top candidates submitted in all categories and can be leaders working in any area of STEM. Leaders considered for this honor are meeting the demands of today’s rapidly advancing technology and dynamic economic environment. They have mastered the art of managing multi-skilled teams to solve complex technical and business problems. The Selection Committee is searching for individuals who model the kind of STEM excellence and executive leadership that significantly impacts an industry, a field of STEM, our community, and our nation.

Chairman’s Award

The Chairman’s Award is presented to engineers, scientists, or educators who have used the highest standards of their profession to make exceptional contributions to their profession or to their community, thereby significantly advancing the positive image of STEM professionals in our society. The Chairman’s Award recipient may or may not come from the pool of nominees.

Past winners of the Chairman’s Award include: Mr. Robert J. Stevens, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Lockheed Martin Corporation; the Hon. Carlos M. Ramirez, P.E., former mayor of the City of El Paso; Michael Carroll, Ph.D., former Dean of the School of Engineering, Rice University; and Jaime Oaxaca, Vice President, Northrop Grumman Corporation (retired) and President, Wilcox Electric, and past presidential appointee to the National Science Board.

Albert V. Baez Award

The Albert V. Baez Award was established in 1995 to honor engineers and scientists with outstanding technical achievements and service to humanity. A retired physicist, Dr. Albert V. Baez is noted for his pioneering research in X-ray optics. As an educator, he spearheaded curriculum reform in third-world countries for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). As a humanitarian, he continued to help others improve their lives though Vivamos Mejor, USA until his passing in 2007.

Past award winners include: Ellen Ochoa, Ph.D., former NASA astronaut and present Director, NASA Johnson Space Center, 2008 HENAAC Engineer of the Year and HENAAC Hall of Fame Member; George Castro, Ph.D., former educator and physicist and HENAAC Hall of Fame Member; and Raphael Bras, Sc.D., Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Pioneer Award

The Pioneer Award is presented to an individual whose professional achievements in STEM has broken traditional societal, political, economic or professional barriers, thereby opening doors and setting a new course for others to follow.

Past award recipients include: Linda Garcia Cubero, who was not only in the first class of women to graduate from a military academy, she was also the only Hispanic woman in this pioneering group of graduates; Nitza Margarita Cintron, Ph.D., M.D., former manager of NASA’s medical operations and activities of the International Space Station; and Zulma R. Toro-Ramos, Ph.D., the first woman chancellor at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.

The Vanguard Award

The Vanguard Award was established in 2007 to honor individuals who may or may not have a technical background and are making huge progress in promoting STEM education and careers in their community, state and county. A Vanguard Award recipient has the ability to convene large groups of stakeholders to positively change current paradigms around STEM and the Hispanic community.

Past recipients of the Vanguard Award are J. Michael Ortiz, Ph.D., President of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and Michael E. Labonge, P.E., Director, Design & Engineering Ride & Show Scientific Systems, Walt Disney World Resort, the Walt Disney Company.