Sandia Labs News Releases

Black Engineer of the Year honoree inspires youth to excel in STEM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There’s more to receiving a Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) award than being a winner, says Aaron Brundage of Sandia National Laboratories.

“The intent of the award is to provide guidance to young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” he says. “It gives them a role model.”

Aaron Brundage of Sandia National Laboratories took to engineering at age 3 when his mom gave him a LEGO 566 kit for Christmas. (Photo by Randy Montoya) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

Brundage was named a 2013 BEYA Minority in Research Science Emerald Honoree in the category of Most Promising Scientist – Government. “I’m honored to be part of something that is bigger than the award itself,” he said. “At Sandia, I have the privilege of doing world-class research, working with and being mentored by the best minds in the country and using the best facilities in the world.”

BEYA awards recognize the nation’s best and brightest engineers, scientists and technology experts. They are a program of the national Career Communications Group, an advocate for corporate diversity, and part of its STEM achievement program. Brundage will receive his award at the 28th BEYA conference Feb. 6 in Washington, D.C. The event precedes National Engineers Week.

Brundage works in modeling and simulation of energetic materials, penetration mechanics, thermodynamics, and combustion and shock physics. He first came to Sandia as an intern in 2002 while earning his doctorate in mechanical engineering at Purdue University. He also has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Brundage feels strongly about giving back to his community. He serves on the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico. In 2011, he and his wife founded a nonprofit, Tools for Learning Outreach Services, that provides workshops in partnership with schools and community programs. Their STEM education programs, intended to reach children who are underserved, at-risk or underrepresented in STEM disciplines, provide hands-on activities and opportunities for learning through play.

Brundage also brought STEM to underrepresented youth in the sixth through 12th grades by volunteering for eight summers as an instructor for HMTech, Sandia’s summer science and engineering program, and by teaching ACT courses at the University of New Mexico.

Brundage is a former director and chairman of the New Mexico section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and is a member of the society’s K-11 Technical Committee on Combustion.

Jeff Isaacson, Sandia’s vice president of Defense Systems & Assessments, said Brundage “is the epitome of the type of researcher we need to deliver innovative solutions to some of our nation’s toughest technical problems.”

“There is more that makes Aaron an exceptional employee — the desire and ability to teach mathematical and scientific concepts to the next generation,” Isaacson said. “Aaron is active in our community promoting STEM at the elementary through post-secondary levels.”

Brundage said role models are most effective when they work directly with youths and offer hands-on experience. “Our job is to share our stories to inspire the next generation and help them understand what they can achieve,” he said.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Nancy Salem,, (505) 844-2739