Student and reigning Miss Tuskegee University Jessica Lillian Dedeaux is one of 20 undergraduate students recognized internationally as being among “Tomorrow’s Technology Leaders: The 20 Twenties.” The awards program is coordinated by Aviation Week Network, in collaboration with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
“Universities around the globe nominated their top students for the ‘20 Twenties’ recognition, which is built on three pillars of what the aerospace industry values most — learning, civic service and high-value research,” Greg Hamilton, Aviation Week Network president, said. “This year’s nominees and winners definitely reflect these pillars while also bringing to the fore the innovation and creativity that are hallmarks for this generation.”
The awards program recognizes students in their 20s for their academic performance, civic contribution and research or design project. This year’s recognition program had qualified nominees from 36 different universities. Among the field of winners representing public and private universities ranging in size and geographic location, Dedeaux was the only winner representing an HBCU.
“This year’s ‘20 Twenties’ winners are outstanding students who reflect the passion, talent and intelligence found within the aerospace community,” said Daniel L. Dumbacher, AIAA executive director. “Not only are they making significant contributions to aerospace, but each is working within their community to make the world a better place. They are uniquely worthy of this honor and recognition, and AIAA is excited to shape the future of aerospace with them.”
Dedeaux, who hails from Wiggins, Mississippi, anticipates graduating in May 2018 with a degree in aerospace engineering. She views this recognition as a means of furthering her career goals of becoming a senior vice president of an aerospace company.
“Receiving this award will not only allow me to have a greater impact on the aerospace field professionally, but will allow me to be an advocate as well. There aren’t many ‘beauty pageant girls’ in the STEM fields,” she said, referencing her current title as Miss Tuskegee University, “so this recognition will provide me with an additional avenue through which I can inspire more young women to consider careers in the engineering and science fields.”
In addition to studies and her role as an ambassador for the university, Dedeaux is a tubist and sousaphonist with the Marching Crimson Pipers band. She is a leader and member of several campus academic, honorary and social organizations, including Tau Beta Sigma, National Honorary Band Sorority, Sigma Gamma Tau, National Honorary Aerospace Society, Society of Women Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, and Presidential Scholars Cohort.
Dedeaux noted her career aspirations are rooted in an insatiable curiosity she experienced during her formable youth years.
“I asked my dad one day why birds aren’t electrocuted when they land on light poles. His response was for me to do some research and find out,” she recalls. “That research led to my early interests in the aerospace field. That prompted my parents to send me to Space Camp, where I fell in love with it all. After that, aviation academies, schools and other programs continued to feed my passion for a career in the industry.”
The “20 Twenties” program is part of an overarching effort to unite technology hiring managers, students and faculty to recognize the full circle required for business and academic success. The students begin building a network comprised of the technical experts who have built the industry, the universities gain visibility for high-quality educational opportunity provided to the students, and hiring managers gain knowledge about the best of the best in the next generation of aerospace talent.
Dedeaux and other “20 Twenties” award winners will honored during Aviation Week’s 61st Annual Laureates Awards on March 1 at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C. For more information about the awards program and a complete list of this year’s award winners, visit http://aviationweek.com/future-aerospace/aviation-week-network-announces-20-twenties-winners-2018.
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 85 countries, and 95 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit www.aiaa.org.
About Aviation Week Network/Informa
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© 2018, Tuskegee University