General Motors’ Alicia Boler Davis Passes Torch as Black Engineer of the Year

Alicia Boler Davis, executive vice president of Global Manufacturing at General Motors and the 2018 Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA), returned to Washington D.C. on Feb. 9 to pass the BEYA torch to Anthony “Tony” Mitchell, executive vice president of Booz Allen. Boler Davis was the sixth woman out of 32 awardees to receive this unique recognition for trailblazing the advancement of STEM for young people, particularly young women of color.

“It’s been a truly humbling experience to be accepted as Black Engineer of the Year,” Boler Davis told DiversityInc. “I’ve always been committed to encouraging people to pursue STEM or to create opportunities for minorities in the area of STEM. But after becoming the Black Engineer of the Year, I felt like I had an even greater responsibility to do even more.”

Boler Davis said that during 2018, she had the opportunity to meet with the deans of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to discuss methods for getting students interested in STEM, and to create more opportunities for graduates with STEM degrees.

She also continued to support STEM initiatives at General Motors and the different organizations that partner with the company “in order to increase the number of women and minorities in STEM.” For example, under her guidance, the company has partnered with the Links, Inc. and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to help establish more NSBE, Jr. chapters across the country.

Boler Davis said that “Get Wise,” a General Motors program, exposes girls in middle school and high school to specific STEM careers, and also supports them in building the confidence needed for success. The company also partners with Black Girls Who Code and Girls Who Code.

General Motors (No. 31 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) has introduced approximately 250,000 U.S. students through 58 STEM-related nonprofits to the world of artificial intelligence, digital and immersive learning and computational thinking since the announcement of the STEM Impact Compass in New York in June 2017.

Boler Davis’ commitment to providing opportunities for young women of color interested in STEM is reflective of the support she has received throughout her career.

“Both mentorship and sponsorship were extremely critical for me to have a long, rewarding career at General Motors,” she said.

Joining Boler Davis at this year’s BEYA Awards were 20 General Motors employees from locations across North America who received the Modern-Day Technology Leader Award. Samwel Machiri, an industrial engineer based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is one of the recipients.

The award “means the world to me,” Machiri told DiversityInc. He said he’s typically the kind of guy that likes to stay “backstage,” but he took delight in receiving recognition.

Machiri, who has been with General Motors since 2015, explained what led him to a career in engineering.

“I was born and raised in Kenya,” Machiri began. “Growing up, I didn’t have much, but my grandfather got me interested in engineering. He was not an engineer himself, but I would sit down with him everyday. He had an AM/FM radio and he taught me how to fix it. So, I got interested in knowing how things work.”

His grandfather sparked his affinity for math and science.

“When I came to the U.S., I knew I wanted to be an engineer.”

Machiri was the first in his family to graduate from college, and the first engineer.

Samwel Machiri, GM Industrial Engineer was recognized as one of the GM Modern-Day Technology Leader Award recipients during the BEYA Modern-Day Technology Leadership Luncheon. / General Motors

Alicia Boler Davis, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing; Gerald Johnson, vice president, North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations; Ken Barrett, global chief diversity officer; Telva McGruder, director of Facility Engineering and Manufacturing Operations in Sustainable Workplaces;and Donetta Houser-Sly, director of Human Resources, North America Manufacturing and Operations pictured with the 2019 GM Modern-Day Technology Leader Award recipients. / General Motors

The 2019 Modern-Day Technology Leader Award recipients:

  • Sara Ali, Manufacturing Planning Administrator, Parma Production Operations.
  • Shanda Brooks, Senior Development Manager, Service Experience & eCommerce.
  • Chrystal Caldwell, Master Process Document (MPD). o Albert Collins, Industrial Engineer Body Systems, Industrial Engineering.
  • Tierney Daniels, Process Engineer, Controls & Auto – Program implementation.
  • Anthony Davis, Arch Lead, Electrical/Chassis/Thermal CME, IRT Co-Chair D2UX, Electrical.
  • Patricia Farley, Parma Metal Center Quality Manager, Parma Metal Center.
  • Cheryl Greer, Engineering Business Manager, Global Accsys, Performance Variants, Parts & Motorsports.
  • Toya Jackson, ME Director, Parma Metal Center.
  • McKinley James, General Assembly Manager, Vehicle Assembly.
  • Samwel Machiri, Industrial Engineer, Industrial Engineers – Current Products – Manufacturing Engineering.
  • Kareem Maine, Assistant Plant Manager, Warren Transmission Operations.
  • Wendy McCluney, Superintendent Progressive Presses -Parma Production Operations.
  • Claudean McCroskey, Program Manager – Retail Experiences PET, Retail Experiences PET.
  • Deba Ohuoba, ME IT Team Lead, CETC/Body.
  • Leigh Parrott, Program Quality Manager – GCCX, Engineering Quality Connected Software – Planning & Execution.
  • Sean Slade, Resident Product Engineer, Block Structure Subsystem & Resident Product Engineering.
  • Sonya Vento, IT Project Manager, Cloud Core Engineering.
  • Holly Wendt, Mexico City Site Performance Manager, Contact Centers Operations.
  • Terriance Woodard, IT Solutions Architect, Global Propulsion Solutions.

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