SASE honors Sandia and Tian Ma at annual awards

By Luke Frank

Photography By Randy Montoya

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Sandia named Organization of the Year, computer scientist earns professional recognition

scientists observe laser recording measurements in wind tunnel
COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY — Sandia has been named 2020 Organization of the Year by the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. Shown here, mechanical engineer Daniel Richardson and postdoctoral fellow Yibin Zhang observe a laser that records measurements in Sandia’s hypersonic wind tunnel.

Sandia was named 2020 Organization of the Year in the government category by the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers at its virtual national conference in October.

The award recognizes organizations with a longstanding commitment to cultural diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Nominees must demonstrate support, advocacy and services addressing the development and advancement of diverse populations with a focus on the Asian American/Pacific Islander community.

“It is evident that Sandia National Laboratories embodies the very reason SASE created this award category, and we are proud to bestow upon the organization this high honor,” said Khánh Vũ, SASE executive director, in a congratulatory award letter from the society. “On behalf of SASE and all of its constituents, thank you for all that you and your team do to make a difference.”

SASE told Labs Director James S. Peery that Sandia’s passion for diversity stood out to the judges. “Being recognized for cultural diversity has special meaning to me and to the thousands of people who work at Sandia Labs,” James said. “A diverse workforce helps us achieve our missions by bringing a variety of backgrounds and perspectives to the national security problems we solve. We strive to assure that every member of our workforce feels appreciated and that every voice is heard.”

Sandia Chief Diversity Officer Esther Hernandez said, “We have a longstanding commitment to inclusion and diversity and believe that differences between people are a valued asset and, in fact, a business imperative in recruiting, hiring and retaining an exceptional workforce. Thanks to the great leadership and staff at Sandia for supporting an environment of inclusion for all of our employees.”

Professional Achievement Award

Tian Ma
REMOTE SENSING PIONEER — Sandia computer scientist Tian Ma has earned a SASE 2020 Professional Achievement Award, in part for his work in remote sensing systems.

At the same time, Sandia computer scientist and engineer Tian J. Ma was honored with SASE’s 2020 Professional Achievement Award, given to mid-career professionals who have made significant discoveries and important advances in their chosen career paths and are acknowledged as leaders of large initiatives. James nominated Tian for the award.

“For more than 17 years, Tian has been a nationally recognized leader in remote-sensing systems. The capability of detecting objects of interest and tracking them as they move is vital to many critical and challenging national missions,” James said.

Tian is a pioneer in the field of detection and tracking, delivering state-of-the-art algorithms to operational systems that have solved U.S. government technical challenges and provided new, needed capabilities that are critical to U.S. security. His work has resulted in numerous advancements in mission-critical capabilities and is being used within challenging, vital and lifesaving national security programs, James said.

In addition to his high-level detection and tracking work, Tian has served as the co-chair and chair of the Asian Leadership Outreach Committee at Sandia for the past 10 years, and he has dedicated many volunteer hours to the Asian American/Pacific Islander community. Tian also has led the annual Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Festival in Albuquerque.

Tian is a founding member of the New Mexico Future City Competition, started in 2014 and now serving more than 400 participants. This STEM event provides a national project-based learning experience for middle-school students to imagine, design and build cities of the future.

He also regularly volunteers as a science fair judge in local STEM competitions, and on weekends to support the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office with crime prevention by applying his scientific and technical knowledge in data processing.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award,” Tian said. “I give much of the credit to my colleagues and leadership for encouraging my work at Sandia and supporting my efforts to be involved in my community.”

SASE’s mission is to prepare scientists and engineers of Asian heritage for success in the global business world, to celebrate diversity on campuses and in the workplace, and to provide opportunities for members to make contributions to their local communities.