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ERDC employees win 2020 Black Engineers of the Year award

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LaKenya Walker and Cameron Thomas, winners of 2020 Black Engineer of the Year awards. (Photo from USACE)

At the office, LaKenya Walker spends her time using high-performance computing to help the military better understand its weapon systems. Cameron Thomas works just a few buildings away as an expert in explosive weapons effects.

Though their jobs are a bit different, the two U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center employees now have something very special in common—they are both winners of the 2020 Black Engineer of the Year Award for Modern Day Technology Leaders.

The award recognizes African-American scientists and engineers around the country who are shaping the future of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion in the STEM pipeline. It was given at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 14.

For Walker, a computer scientist in the Information Technology Lab, the award came as a bit of a surprise.

“In all honesty, when my branch chief said he was nominating me, my first thought was ‘why?’” Walker said. “I did not think I had any chance of actually winning.”

Walker got her start with ERDC in 2014 as a student intern, before being hired full-time after her graduation from Alcorn State University with a degree in computer science. Since then, she has helped develop an Environmental Simulator, which computationally models how the environment affects military platforms, such as tanks and helicopters. Currently, she is working to support Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithm development for condition-based maintenance of military weapon systems and planning to start work towards her doctorate.

Cameron Thomas, a research civil engineer at the Geotechnical and Structures Lab, gave credit for his award to the people around him.

“My success comes as a result of the great circle of people around me in this organization and community,” Thomas said. “They push me to be great.”

Thomas, a graduate of Jackson State University and Mississippi State University, works in the Impact and Explosion Effects branch. His research is used to mitigate the effects of attacks on people, vehicles and installations through methods and tools that help detect threats.

“Some of the most creative and innovative professionals have been nominated for Modern Day Technology Leader Awards, and we are pleased to have LaKenya and Cameron join their ranks,” said Dr. David Pittman, director of the ERDC. “They bring great credit to ERDC, the Army and the Nation.”

Crime

Governor’s sign-language interpreter arrested

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(Photo source: WAPT)

Gregory Goldman, 52, was arrested Sunday in Madison County for aggravated domestic violence, WAPT reports.

Goldman, who frequently provides sign language interpretation for Gov. Tate Reeves during his news conferences, has also signed for Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. during major press events.

Goldman is employed by the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services.

There are few details available about the allegations that led to his arrest. Goldman was released on $1,000 bond Monday.

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Huge pothole closes down I-20 on-ramp

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(photo by Sean Wright)

Numerous vehicles were damaged Friday night after hitting a pothole on the Interstate 20 eastbound ramp from Indiana Avenue.

Apparently, the pothole expanded Friday due to the rain. One victim of the pothole estimated at least 10 vehicles were damaged in a short time.

Vicksburg police have closed the ramp to allow crews to fill in the pothole.

The repairs may take several hours. Please take an alternate route.

 

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At least four accidents reported on Vicksburg’s rain-slick roads in an hour

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Rollover accident at Gibson and China Grove roads Friday night (photo by David Day)

With Friday’s rainy weather making roads slick, Vicksburg has seen a rash of accidents since around 5 p.m.

A wreck on Porter’s Chapel Road near the intersection of Halls Ferry Road is at least the third accident reported.

Result of a wreck on Porter’s Chapel Road Friday. (photo by David Day)

There are reportedly some very minor injuries to the occupants of the vehicle involved.

Other accidents have been reported on Fisher Ferry Road, and near the intersection of U.S. Highway 80 and U.S Highway 61 North. The Highway 80 accident also had minor injuries.

A fourth accident on Gibson and China Grove roads involved a rollover, but no injuries have been reported.

Slow down, folks. The life you save could be your own.

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