Laurence Howell, the executive director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has been named minority-engineering program director of the year by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).
Separately, Carlomagno Ontaneda, the assistant director of the EOP, has been named educator of the year by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).
Howell, of Wayne, was cited by NSBE for being a “major contributor to NJIT’s consistently high ranking in graduating African American and Hispanic engineers.” Ontaneda, of Livingston, was cited by SHPE for “promoting Hispanic education in the engineering, science and math disciplines.”
Howell was pleased with both awards.
“It’s the first time two staff members from an engineering development program, both from the same university, have been recognized in the same year by these two national societies,” said Howell. “It shows that the EOP at NJIT is not only a success but a national leader in higher education.”
Howell will receive NSBE’s premier honor, the Golden Torch Award, during the group’s March 18 gala event in Dallas, Texas. Ontaneda recently received his award at a SHPE banquet in Chicago, Ill.
EOP is a state and university funded program that offers academic, financial, career and counselling support to underrepresented students. EOP supports students who are typically unprepared by their high schools to contend with a rigorous engineering school such as NJIT. Howell supervises an EOP staff of 10 workers whose job it is to recruit, educate and graduate these students. With an annual budget of $2.3 million, Howell has increased the number of incoming EOP freshman at NJIT to 150 out of a total enrollment of 5,500.
Under Howell’s leadership, NJIT has distinguished itself in the national rankings of colleges that graduate minority engineers. According to the magazine Black Issues In Higher Education, NJIT ranks 15 in the nation for awarding bachelor degrees in engineering to African Americans, and 11 nationally for awarding bachelor degrees in engineering to Hispanics.
In recognizing Ontaneda, SHPE cited him for vigorously promoting higher education to Latinos. In the February issue of SHPE Magazine, an article described Ontandea as a “champion of recruitment and retention who has developed the formula for student’s success.”
Ontaneda, a native of Ecuador who has dedicated his life to helping Latinos overcome obstacles to technical higher education, said he considers his job a blessing since it affords him the personal satisfaction of helping students who otherwise might not have made it to college.
“This award from SHPE is a great honor to me,” said Ontaneda. “It verifies that what we are doing here in EOP - helping educate students who might have been left behind - is of great national importance.”
Ontaneda holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial administration from NJIT. Howell holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology/psychology and a master’s degree in counselling and administration, both from Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN.
The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Los Angeles, CA, is a non-profit group of professional engineers and student chapters whose mission is to serve as role models in the Hispanic community. The National Society of Black Engineers, based in Alexandria, VA, is a non-profit group whose mission is to increase the number of black engineers.