School of Computing and Engineering Recognizes Alumni and Friends for Supporting STEM in KC

KC Water, Prep KC, two SCE Alumni are among this year’s Vanguard Award recipients
photo of Vanguard magazine on table with flowers

From donors to student mentors to community partners, the role of alumni and friends is essential to furthering the mission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City and its School of Computing and Engineering. The annual SCE Vanguard Awards is an opportunity to spotlight those who help expand STEM education and outreach in Kansas City.

“This is a great opportunity for us to recognize the key role that our alumni, corporate and community supporters play in making the School of Computing and Engineering the success that it is today. This group of honorees is just a small depiction of the outstanding leaders in engineering that we have the opportunity to connect with every day,” said Kevin Z. Truman, dean of the School of Computing and Engineering.

This year the school will recognize four honorees in the categories of SCE Young Alumni Award, SCE Supporter Award, STEM Outreach Partner and Organization of the Year.

2020 SCE Vanguard Award Recipients
Young Alumni Award: George White, Jr., BSCE ‘13, civil engineer, GLMV Architecture

George White, Jr., SCE Alumni Association director-at-large and Engineers Without Borders mentor, has a knack for giving back. Heavily involved in the Kansas City community, White is a staunch supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City, Christmas in October and other mentoring programs that affect underrepresented youth. As a civil engineer at GLMV Architecture, White’s primary role consists of business development and engineering site design for facilities, though he takes great pride in his responsibility to apply his skills to the greater good.

SCE Supporter of the Year: Sherry Lumpkins, BACS ’93, principal, Blue Symphony

Lumpkins’ dedication to STEM education, community service and the School of Computing and Engineering is demonstrated though her company and her personal volunteer activities. Lumpkins has served as a UMKC Legacy Summit Leadership Conference Workshop facilitator, KC STEM Alliance Girls In Tech Hour of Code volunteer and a panelist for Computer Science Teacher Mentor Day hosted by KC STEM Alliance, Science City, Project Lead The Way and the KC Tech Council.

As an African American female owner of an information technology firm, Sherry Lumkins is a prime example of the value that women and people of color bring to STEM. Since 2017, Lumpkins has employed six School of Computing and Engineering interns, three of which she currently employs, showing a commitment to improve students’ education through valuable hands-on experiences in STEM.

Outreach Partner of the Year: PREP-KC

The mission of PREP-KC is to develop leverage and deploy resources to improve Kansas City’s urban and regional educational outcomes by strengthening relationship between students, teachers and parents and by improving teaching learning. Founded in 2006 as Kansas City’s leading urban education intermediary, Prep-KC aims to improve college readiness and access to high-quality employment for more than 60,000 students and families served by six of Kansas City’s bi-state urban school districts.

PREP-KC has several STEAM partnerships where students are earning Market Value Assets, industry-recognized and valuable skills that help students transition more seamlessly from high school to college and career.

Organization of the Year: KC Water

KC Water is committed to providing excellent water, wastewater and stormwater services that ensure the health and safety of half a million Kansas City residents while safeguarding regional water resources for future generations. In order to maintain this commitment to customers and community, KC Water has a long-standing reputation of recruiting and retaining a workforce consisting of several graduates of the School of Computing and Engineering. Currently, there are nearly a dozen UMKC graduates in KC Water’s engineering department.

One notable employee is John Hitson, a 2018 UMKC mechanical engineering graduate who serves as a Project Manager on KC Water’s Wastewater Systems team. In his first nine months, Hitson has been assigned several infrastructure-improvement projects. Specifically, he is serving as a project manager of a critical repair project on a 12-foot diameter brick arch sewer that failed in the West Bottoms and created a sinkhole in the summer of 2019.

The School of Computing and Engineering recently announced a partnership with KC Water and other stakeholders – including FEMA, Unified Government and the Army Corps of Engineers — to launch the Center for Urban Stormwater Research, a research consortium focused on tackling urban flooding in Kansas City.

Plans to formally recognize the 2020 Vanguard Award recipients will be announced at a later date.