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Two Howard Community College Employees Selected as Finalists for National Awards

Minah Woo and Craig Murray

The American Association of Community Colleges selected two Howard Community College (HCC) employees as finalists for its 2023 Awards of Excellence, which honor member colleges at the national level. Dr. Craig Murray, chair of the engineering program and associate professor of engineering, was chosen as a finalist for the Faculty Innovation Award. Vice President of Workforce, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships Minah Woo was chosen as a finalist in the Rising Star – Executive category.

Dr. Craig Murray created the Dragon Racing Team at Howard Community College to bring a new experiential learning opportunity to students, making HCC one of only two community colleges that have competed in the national Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Competition. The team designs and constructs a Formula One-style race car in the HCC engineering lab, and then brings the car to the national competition in Michigan.

In recent years, Dr. Murray developed and taught the course Introduction to Aerospace Systems. HCC is the only community college in Maryland to offer this specialized engineering course.

Through his work, Dr. Murray embodies the HCC mission of providing students with pathways to success. Students describe him as the “hands-down, absolute best professor” who inspires a love of learning.

“Dr. Craig Murray is an inventive, dynamic, effective, and nurturing faculty member who exemplifies the very best traits of our Howard Community College faculty,” said Dr. Daria J. Willis, president of Howard Community College. “He is enthusiastic about implementing new ideas that will nurture student learning and prepare students for success in our rapidly-evolving world.”

Vice President Minah Woo has been the driving force behind the creation of registered apprenticeship programs at HCC. More than 80% of HCC students attend classes part time due to family and other obligations, while regional employers struggle with attracting and retaining workforce talent. The apprenticeship programs are a win-win opportunity for both students and employers by bringing new talent into the workforce. After starting the programs in 2019, HCC has grown from 12 apprentices in one program to 270 apprentices across 12 occupations, from heating and air conditioning, construction management, and plumbing to surgical technologist, information technology, and electrical.

Woo represents HCC at the local, state, and national levels as an apprenticeship expert. Most recently, she served as a panelist at the White House Cyber Workforce Challenge Culminating Event during the 2022 National Apprenticeship Week. She currently is a member of two Maryland State Joint Commission task forces on registered apprenticeships and a member of Maryland Department of Labor workgroups on apprenticeships.

Earlier in her career, Woo was critical to the creation of programs that provide access to English instruction and career development. The English Institute, an intensive English program for F1 international students, is the only program of its kind among Maryland community colleges. The Skilled Immigrant Program provides educated professionals from different countries access to career opportunities and work-specific English instruction.

“Minah Woo is a goal-oriented leader,” said Dr. Willis. “Her exceptional skills coupled with her ability to build and nurture relationships benefit both students and employers. In everything she does, her work furthers the mission, vision, and values of Howard Community College.”

The winners of the 2023 Awards of Excellence will be announced during the AACC Annual gala on April 3, 2023, in Denver, Colorado.
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