STEM professionals, educators, volunteers are honored

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals, educators and volunteers were recently honored at a celebration in the Quad Cities.

The 60th annual STEM Celebration, held by the Quad City Engineering & Science Council (QCESC), was held Feb. 24 at The Bend in East Moline.

The event helps honor science and engineering professionals, educators and volunteers for outstanding achievements and contributions to society. Some of these contributions include helping to promote and raise awareness of STEM education and careers in the region.

Several people and a group were honored during the celebration.

Those receiving awards included:

  • Sara Somsky: 2022 Senior Engineer of the Year. Ms. Somsky is the geotechnical department manager at Terracon’s Bettendorf office. She oversees geotechnical project managers and the exploration team. She also serves as an engineering consultant for the materials testing department. Ms. Somsky is past president and current treasurer of the American Society of Civil Engineers – Quad Cities section. She is a volunteer with MathCounts, Block Kids, bridge building competitions, FIRST Robotics, Girls Scout STEAM nights and badge events.
  • Walter DeDoncker: 2022 Junior Engineer of the Year. Mr. DeDoncker is a civil engineer with IMEG Corp. in Rock Island. He has conducted routine safety inspections for more than 100 vehicular bridges. He currently serves as chair of the IMEG Quad Cities Community Involvement Committee and mentors junior engineers and technicians.
  • Dr. Anshu Singh: 2022 Senior Scientist of the Year. She is the chief environmental services and co-founder of Riverside Global in Hampton, Illinois. She serves as an adjunct instructor for the Biology Department at St. Ambrose University. Ms. Singh is the chair of the Southeast Iowa Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. She is also a member of the Society of American Military Engineers and American Agri-Women.
  • Jacob Hunter: 2022 STEM Teacher of the Year. Mr. Hunter is the lead ag teacher and FFA advisor  for the North Scott Community School District. He established and expanded the first junior high FFA chapter in the state of Iowa. Mr. Jacobs co-leads the charge to establish a regional ag facility to enhance educational opportunities.
  • Curt Hammer: 2022 Volunteer of the Year. Mr. Hammer is a grain harvesting electrical systems supervisor at the John Deere Global Crop Harvesting Product Development Center in East Moline. He has been involved in FIRST Robotics since 2012. He has volunteered as a judge, judge assistant and referee for various FIRST events.
  • Deb Mathias: 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Mathias worked as a principal environmental engineer for Stanley Consultants in Muscatine until her recent retirement. She has been a member of eight professional organizations, including the American Society of Civil Engineers – Quad Cities Section and the Iowa Engineering Society – Muscatine Chapter. Ms. Mathias began her career designing drainage for Jamaica’s North Coast highway. Some of her other projects included: Davenport West Side diversion tunnel, many New Orleans flood protection projects, Everglades restoration projects, Abu Dhabi International Airport, and master planning the reconstruction of Iraq.
  • Carl Loweth: 2022 President’s Award of Merit: Mr. Loweth is a five-term past QCESC STEM coordinator and a 10-year QCESC volunteer. He worked for John Deere supporting innovation for more than 30 years before starting his own consulting business. Under his leadership, QCESC led many outreach events, such as the QC Tech Challenge and STEM Teachers’ Night Out.
  • Society of American Military Engineers – Rock Island Post: 2022 Society of the Year: Founded in 1920, the society builds leaders and leads collaboration among government and industry to develop solutions to national security challenges. The Rock Island post, in partnership with the ASCE Quad Cities section, hosted a virtual engineering training conference in 2021.

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