2016 GEM Annual Conference


GEM convened its 2016 Annual Board Meeting, Conference and 40th Anniversary Gala Celebration on August 3-5 at the Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort Hotel. The conference was structured to engage GEM Representatives in mission-forward discussions and take action through voting on strategic items during the board meeting; while prospective and current graduate students attended workshops, participated in a technical presentation competition & poster session, engaged with graduate and post-doc programs during the Graduate University Networking Event, and took advantage of networking opportunities with representatives during the opening reception cruise and University & Associate Fellows Employer networking event. The highlight of this year’s event was the 40th Anniversary black-tie gala that took participants down memory lane on a virtual tour of the past forty years of achievement toward our mission.

“Welcome to Florida”
Opening Session and Reception Cruise

The Opening Session and Reception Cruise was a phenomenal opportunity for members and students to gather to meet each other, while cruising the inner harbor of North Miami Beach. The session began in the Eden Roc with opening presentations and videos from the sponsors, and ended with a “white attire” networking reception cruise aboard the South Beach Lady.

  • eric-evansEric D. Evans, PhD
    GEM Board of Directors
  • juan-gilbertJuan E. Gilbert, PhD
    The Banks Preeminence Chair
    University of Florida
  • robert-bishopRobert H. Bishop, PhD
    Dean of Engineering
    University of South Florida

  • jaffus-hardrickJaffus Hardrick, EdD
    Vice Provost
    Florida International University
Conference Sponsor Videos


MIT Lincoln Lab

Georgia Tech

Florida International University

University of Florida

University of South Florida

Thursday Morning Plenary:
“The GEM Advantage”

The Thursday breakfast plenary session provided the perfect jumpstart to the conference day with an update by GEM’s board president, and Lab Director at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Dr. Eric Evans on the state of the organization and the many accomplishments made during 2015 – 2016 fiscal year and the opportunities ahead. Dr. Evans’ keynote was followed by a rousing “talk show” style panel discussion moderated by GEM Executive Vice President and Georgia Institute of Technology’s Dean of Engineering, Dr. Gary S. May.

Thank you to our Plenary Breakfast sponsor!


  • gary-mayGary S. May, PhD
    Dean of Engineering
    Georgia Institute of Technology
  • leshelle-mayLeshelle Rodriguez May
    Development Manager
    CNN – Turner Broadcasting
  • johney-greenJohney Green, Jr., PhD
    Division Director
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • linda-jordanLinda Jordan
    Financial Services Executive
Thursday Afternoon Plenary:
“Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in Senior Technical Roles”

The Thursday lunch plenary session created a break in the daily workshop schedule for attendees to gain knowledge on the challenges and successes of GEM female alumni and technical thought leaders at event sponsor, Intel Corporation. The Intel executives, while wearing their “Intel bling” and wearable technology shared personal stories of triumph while tackling some difficult issues posed by the audience. The “talk show” style panel was preceded by an Intel sponsor video.

Thank you to our Plenary Lunch sponsor!


  • barbara-whyeBarbara Whye
    Executive Director of Global Strategy and External Alliances
  • lakecia-gunterLakecia Gunter
    Director of Consumer Desktop Segment Marketing
  • patty-lopezPatricia Lopez, PhD
    Senior Platform Applications Engineer
  • joan-tafoyaJoan Tafoya
    Lead Operations, Drone Business Unit

Student Programming

The GEM GRAD Lab and Future Faculty and Professionals (FFP) Symposium workshops provided student content focused on leadership and academic success were phenomenal and truly assisted the students on their path of excellence toward attainment of graduate STEM degrees. Additionally, over 25 GEM University and Associate Fellows were sponsored on student travel grants to the conference thanks to National Science Foundation [Award #1564418].

Thank you to our sponsors!
  • grad-lab
  • ffp-171x100
  • NSF-Logo

  • student-program1
  • student-program2
  • student-program3
  • student-program4
Graduate and Post Doc University &
University/Associate Fellow Employer Networking Events

GEM hosted a graduate and postdoc networking event at the Miami Beach Annual Meeting that allowed undergraduate and graduate student attendees to directly interact with University representatives in attendance on graduate degree and post doc opportunities. Close to 70 GEM University members were present to engage students. Additionally, GEM University and Associate Fellows, whose fellowships are not GEM employer sponsored, were given the opportunity to engage with GEM employers in one-on-one interaction during the employer networking event.


Silent Auction Pre-Reception

Attendees gathered prior to the Black Tie Gala for networking, beverages, and participation in a silent auction, with proceeds to benefit the GEM Fellowship program.

Gala Dinner Table Sponsors


GEM is celebrating 40 years of advocating for talented, underrepresented minorities who earned graduate degrees in engineering and applied science. The Gala, hosted by Aaron Spears (BET’s Being Mary Jane and CBS Bold and the Beautiful) and Alina Machado (NBC Miami, formerly CNN), showcased the amazing accomplishments of GEM Alumni who have contributed to GEM students’ success. The trip down memory lane of the past forty years were truly inspirational.

Gala After Party Sponsored by


At the close of the gala, dancers escorted attendees into the dessert reception, followed by an after-party hosted by the GEM Alumni Association.

Annual Board Meeting Vote Results

The following voting items “passed” during the 2016 Annual Board Meeting:

  • Approval of 2015 Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
  • 2016-2017 GEM Annual Budget
  • 2016-2017 Executive Committee
Technical Presentation Competition & Poster Session


Students competed for cash awards in the GEM Technical Presentation Competition, sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, by presenting their MS or PhD level research. This year’s winners by category are:

Master’s and 1st Year Ph.D. Level:
  • 1st Place – Adrienne Sands, 2015 GEM PhD Fellow, University of Minnesota, Adobe Systems Incorporated

  • 2nd Place – Tenell Rhodes, Jr., 2015 GEM MS Fellow, Drexel University, Adobe Systems Incorporated

  • 3rd Place (Tie) – Abisola Kusimo, 2016 GEM MS Fellow, Stanford University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  • 3rd Place (Tie) – Dominic Bednar, 2015 GEM MS Fellow, University of Michigan, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
2nd Year and Beyond Ph.D. Level:
  • 1st Place – Stefany Holguin, PhD Student,
    Georgia Institute of Technology

  • 2nd Place – Adewale Odukomaiya, 2013 GEM MS Fellow, Current PhD Student, Georgia Institute of Technology, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  • 3rd Place – Loretta Cheeks, 2013 GEM PhD Fellow, Arizona State University, Adobe Systems Incorporated


Nine (9) students also participated in the Poster Session, presenting undergraduate, graduate, and fellowship internship-based research to a panel of judges. The winner of the 2016 Poster Session is: David Garcia, 2015 GEM Associate PhD Fellow, University of Tennessee-Knoxville


And the GEM 2016 Award Winners are…

Implementation of the GEM mission relies heavily on the volunteerism and support of our GEM Alumni. In celebration of your 40th anniversary, GEM honored two alum who have made significant contributions to the Consortium:

GEM Alumni Member of the Year (Male)


Roderick Jackson, PhD, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
GEM Alumni Member of the Year (Female)


Christine Ortiz, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Thank You to Our 2016 Sponsors

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