De’Michael Queen ’15 earns promotion to electrical engineer III at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia

An Alcornite is excelling in the world of engineering.

De’Michael Queen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electromechanical engineering technology from Alcorn State University in 2015, was promoted to electrical engineer III at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, in Newport News, Virginia.

Newport News Shipbuilding is the largest industrial employer in Virginia, and sole designer, builder, and refueler for United States Navy aircraft carriers and one of two providers of U.S. Navy submarines. With approximately $4 billion in revenues and more than 25,000 employees, the company is the largest industrial employer in Virginia and the largest shipbuilding company in the United States.

The promotion took Queen by surprise. He said that he was so focused on the betterment of his team that he didn’t think much about his progression at his job. He appreciates his work being recognized by his manager.

“I was shocked because I did not anticipate getting promoted,” said Queen. “I am my biggest critic, which sometimes inhibits me from acknowledging my growth as a professional and how far I have come as a person. I always acknowledge the great work others do, but when assessing my accomplishments, it is hard for me to accept them because I sometimes deem the quality of my work as ordinary. However, I appreciate my supervisor for recognizing my work ethic by rewarding me with this promotion.”

Climbing the ranks wasn’t always easy for Queen. He reflected on some of the struggles he had to overcome at the beginning of his career.

“Getting to this point in my career took more than hard work. It also took persistence and determination. Early in my career, at my first section meeting with my group, it seemed like everyone was speaking a foreign language. I didn’t understand what was being discussed and instantly started overthinking and second-guessing my competency within my new career.”

Queen didn’t fold under pressure. He maintained his focus and enhanced his work ethic to ensure his success as an engineer.

“Although I found things to be difficult, I didn’t quit; I was resilient. I often went beyond what was expected of me to ensure my success within the field. Sometimes, I stayed late after work to read and gain a better understanding of the machines I had to use. My work ethic enabled me to remove self-doubt, and I began to understand how things worked. After a while, the work became easier.”

Although happy to be promoted, Queen realizes that the work doesn’t stop here. The promotion motivates him to set his sights on accomplishing more in the future.

“The promotion allows me to see growth within myself and the company. It has also given me an additional boost to do and learn more to further advance in my career. This promotion has challenged me to set new goals and continue to surpass expectations.”

Being in the field gives Queen a chance to work and interact with engineers from various places from around the world. He said that working with a diverse group of people and taking on new challenges are some of the best parts of his career.

“I love the diversity in the field. I’ve been fortunate to work with engineers from all over the world. I also enjoy the professional and leadership development that comes along with being an engineer. I have been fortunate to lead a team of engineers and oversee multiple machines, which makes each day different. Every day, I check my email for opportunities to learn something new. Some tasks are more difficult than others, but I love a good challenge.”

While a student at Alcorn, Queen took advantage of opportunities that set him up for success in engineering. He reflected on those opportunities that the University gave him that included studying abroad in Taiwan, holding Student Government Association (SGA) positions, and meeting and being advised by seasoned engineers.

“Alcorn prepared me for success in engineering. Alcorn prepared me for many of the challenges I have faced as an engineer. The instructors in Alcorn’s Department of Advanced Technology sharpened the critical thinking skills I use daily at work. I believe Alcorn has been and will continue to be the foundation not only for myself but also for others.”

Passing on helpful information to young aspiring engineers is one of Queen’s priorities. He encourages the next generation of engineers to sharpen their communication skills, be open to learning, and ask questions.

“Work on your writing and public speaking skills, never stop learning, and ask questions. Never be ashamed of saying you don’t understand. Sometimes, the question you ask answers the same question others were afraid to ask. You’re more than equipped to handle anything that comes your way. Believe that you can get through your obstacles. Envision your success and see it through.”