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Miami graduate receives Presidential Award of Excellence

01/17/2012

Juan Gilbert
by Emily Glaser, news and public information intern

Miami University alumnus Juan Gilbert was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring by President Barack Obama. Gilbert, who received his bachelor's degree in systems analysis from Miami in 1991, was one of nine people presented with the award in December.

The award is presented to individuals or organizations that recognize the importance of mentoring students studying science and engineering, particularly those students who represent minority groups in scientific fields.

“I was extremely honored and excited. Very few people get to win the award, especially from my area of computer science,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert, now the chair of the Human Centered Computing Division at Clemson University, was recognized for many accomplishments including mentoring one-third of the nation's African American doctoral students in computer science. Recently he received a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to create technologies to make voting more accessible for people with disabilities.

He credits his Miami education and professors for sending him on his career path.

Jimmie Jones, director of multicultural services for Miami's regional campuses, helped Gilbert fill out his financial aid forms for college and continued mentoring him throughout his Miami education. When Gilbert asked Jones how he could thank him for his help, Jones told him to do the same for others as Jones did for Gilbert.

Another Miami professor suggested that Gilbert think about teaching.

“Dr. David Haddad, who at the time was the dean of the school (Miami's School of Engineering and Applied Science ), told me I should consider being a professor, and I’d never thought of it that way,” Gilbert said. “If it hadn’t been for that moment, I don’t think I would’ve found my way into this profession.”

Miami President David Hodge will be introducing Gilbert and giving him an award during Racial Legacies & Learning XXVII at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, on the Miami Middletown campus. Gilbert will also speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, on Miami’s Hamilton campus.

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