Engineering Dean Gary May wins mentoring award from President Obama

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

By Kay Kinard, College of Engineering

College of Engineering Dean Gary S. May has been honored by President Obama as an outstanding science, mathematics, and engineering mentor.

“These educators are helping to cultivate America’s future scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” Obama said. “They open new worlds to their students, and give them the encouragement they need to learn, discover and innovate. That’s transforming those students’ futures, and our nation’s future, too.”

May is one of 14 individuals and one organization named as the newest recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). These mentors will receive their awards at a White House ceremony later this year.

"I could not be more honored to receive this recognition from President Obama,” said May. “Mentoring engineering students and broadening participation among underrepresented groups has been a pillar of my career, and it is truly gratifying for my contributions to be acknowledged. I want to thank the White House and all of the students who have enriched my life in so many ways."

May created the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering/Science (SURE) program, for which he was granted more than $2.7 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Through SURE, he annually hosted minority students to do research at Georgia Tech in the hopes that they would pursue a graduate degree. More than 73 percent of SURE participants enrolled in graduate school.

May was also the creator and director of the Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Science (FACES) program, for which he was granted over $10 million from NSF to increase the number of African-American Ph.D. recipients produced by Georgia Tech. Over the duration of FACES, more than 430 minority students received Ph.D. degrees in science or engineering at Georgia Tech — the most in such fields in the nation.

Recently, May worked with the Sloan Foundation and colleagues to create a University Center of Exemplary Mentoring at Tech. The program provides stipend support to minority Ph.D. students in an effort to increase underrepresented minority participation for advanced engineering degrees.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring is given by the White House to individuals and organizations to recognize the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science and engineering — particularly those who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields. By offering their expertise and encouragement, mentors help prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers while ensuring that tomorrow’s innovators represent a diverse pool of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics talent throughout the United States.

Candidates for the award are nominated by colleagues, administrators, and students in their home institutions or through professional affiliations. Their mentoring can involve students at any grade level from elementary through graduate school and professional development mentoring of early career scientists.

In addition to being honored at the White House, recipients receive awards of $10,000 from the National Science Foundation.