CS 05 cadet named among Hispanic engineer award winners

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A cadet in Cadet Squadron 05 here was one of six Airmen recognized during the 23rd-annual Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in October.

Cadet 1st Class Eli Garduño was received a HENAAC Military Academy Cadet Role Model Award for academic excellence and dedicating his life to the service and defense of the United States.

Garduño, a native of Santa Fe., N.M., said he was honored to have won the award.

"I know that my air officer commanding (Maj. Melissa Youderian) spent a lot of personal time working on my nomination, and I am very grateful for her support," Garduño said.

Garduño was one of seven candidates at the Air Force Academy to be considered for the award, said Col. Dan Uribe, permanent professor and head of the Academy's Foreign Languages Department. Uribe and Col. Jeffrey Butler, permanent professor and head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, evaluated each candidate based on their overall cadet standing, academic and military achievements and community involvement, with an emphasis on involvement within the Hispanic community.

The cadet spoke to approximately 300 inner-city high school students attending the award ceremony.

"The conference was centered around the importance and recognition of science, technology, engineering and math," or STEM, he said. "I realized that one of the things I could remind the students of was the fun of studying a STEM field. I tried to speak with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and let them know that we, the high school students and my peers, have the opportunity to invent a world beyond our current imaginations. I made sure they knew that STEM fields are difficult but also very rewarding."

Garduño was selected as the outstanding second-class cadet for the Cadet Wing in the spring. His community service projects included organizing "Letters to Heroes" as a freshman, working with CS 05 at Habitat for Humanity as a junior and volunteering at triathlons this semester.

As part of the award, Garduño received a free ticket to attend one of the Walt Disney World parks. After graduation, he will enter the Air Force scientist career field as a physicist.

HENAAC award winners are selected by a committee comprising industry, academic and government professionals. Other Air Force HENAAC award recipients included:

- James Barnett, engineering director for the Electronic Systems Center's Cryptologic Products Support Division at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, who received a Military and Civilian Hero Award

- Lewis Rosado, a senior supervisory mechanical engineer for the Air Force Research Laboratory's Turbine Engine Division at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, who received a Military and Civilian Hero Award

- Johan Vicioso, a lead automated test stations engineer for the 410th Supply Chain Management Squadron at Robins AFB, Ga., who received the Most Promising Engineer or Science - Undergraduate Degree Award.

- Yessica Gutierrez, a communications security systems engineer for ESC's Cryptologic System Division at Lackland AFB, who received the 2011 Military Luminary award.

- ROTC Cadet Cristina Gonzalez, a student with Air Force ROTC Detachment 027 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz., who received an ROTC Cadet Role Model Award.

(Senior Master Sgt. David Byron at the Air Force Public Affairs Agency contributed to this report.)