Home Lifestyle BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Rockingham’s Monique Stewart has successful track in railroad industry

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Rockingham’s Monique Stewart has successful track in railroad industry

Today we shine some well-deserved light on a 1987 Richmond Senior High School graduate who has made historic milestones. Monique Ferguson Stewart was the first African American female engineer to be hired at the United States Department of Transportation/ Federal Railroad Administration.  

A leading industry publication, Railway Age magazine, recently recognized Stewart as one of 2021’s ‘Women in Rail’ honorees, a program honoring leaders who have made a difference in the railroad industry and in their communities among nominations from the United States and Mexico. Stewart’s cover story marked the first time a black woman has been featured on the cover of this major railroad industry magazine since its original publication in 1856. 

She is a two-time Magna Cum Laude graduate from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from North Carolina Central University, where she became a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Also while attending NCCU, Stewart was selected to study abroad, traveling throughout Germany and mastered the language during her trip. 

She started her railroad career right out of college in 1993, working on locomotives at CSX Transportation in Jacksonville, Florida, until she joined the FRA in 1995. She is presently a senior program manager/mechanical engineer in FRA’s Office of Research, Development and Technology where she oversees projects related to rolling stock equipment and components, such as brakes, wheels, roller bearings and equipment health monitoring. Other management tasks of hers include a project portfolio with a budget that has totaled almost $90 million. Additionally, Stewart serves as the team lead for Workforce Development, addressing rail industry workforce challenges. 

In 1998, she was a congressional analyst/ rotational detail assignment with the Congressional Research Service Library of Congress. From 2017-2018, she served as a senior policy advisor to the chief human capital officer selectee under the U.S. President’s Management Council-Interagency Rotation Detail Assignment for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C.

Not only has Stewart paved the way for herself, she is passionate about helping others achieve success and has served as the chair for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Scholarship for six years, awarding 123 scholarships to both undergraduate and graduate engineering students in the amount of $115,150, allowing them to participate in annual ASME Joint Rail Conferences.

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Stewart has traveled the world exchanging and sharing her research results on the safe operation of railroad equipment and components on both national and international platforms, forums, and conferences with research partners in Brazil, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Italy, Portugal, Australia, Japan and Spain to name a few locations. She has authored or co-authored over 60 technical publications and papers, many of which have been published or presented at both national and international rail industry conferences. 

Stewart is currently on special assignment working in the office of the Secretary of Transportation (Pete Buttigieg) serving as the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Transportation. She is currently managing DOT’s implementation of President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on HBCUs and representing DOT on the White House Initiative for HBCUs.

Some of Stewart’s awards include the Diversity Achievement Award, Employee Development Team Award, High-Speed Rail Broad Agency Announcement Team Award, Superior Achievement Award, and the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant Team Award. 

Join us today in celebrating this trailblazing Rockingham native for her historic achievements and continued success! She is the perfect recipient for a tribute post in honor of Black History and Women’s History and a true Richmond County success story!

Meghann Lambeth is executive director of the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority.

(Editor’s Note: Visit Richmond County is highlighting prominent local African Americans each day in February in honor of Black History Month. Previous individuals featured include late Richmond County sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr., late state representative Harrison Ingram Quick, dancer and makeup artist Ciarra Kelley, Ellerbe Mayor Brenda Capel, two-time Super Bowl champion Perry Williams, Bishop Arlester Simpson of Ellerbe, Richmond County School Board member Ronald Tillman, and educator Melvin Ingram. See the Visit Richmond County Facebook page for more on these outstanding individuals.)