Three ECU engineering alumni to receive 40 under Forty awards

Three East Carolina University engineering graduates are among this year’s recipients of ECU’s 40 Under Forty Leadership Awards.

Brittany Cline ’16, Antonia “Toni” Dingeman ’20 and Aaron-John “A.J.” Malicdem ’11 will be accepting their awards during a reception Saturday at ECU. Individual tickets are $50 and can be purchased online.

The award recognizes emerging leaders who have used their ECU experiences to make significant impacts in their respective professions, communities and the world.

Brittany Cline

Cline sums out her time at ECU simply.

“Let’s just say it was a blast,” she said. “And I still graduated with honors.”

She took her engineering degree to NAVAIR and Fleet Readiness Center East (FRC East) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, where she works as a recruitment and development branch head. She supports 250 entry-level engineers and recruits others at the Department of Defense aircraft repair and maintenance depot.

She’s a member of ECU’s Engineering Advisory Board (EAB), and in her role at FRC East, she found herself working with ECU to create the Engineering Developmental Assistance Program (EDAP). That program offers paid internships to ECU engineering students while providing FRC East with a talented, experienced workforce from which to draw.

“I was thrilled to get to work with ECU and create this pathway and opportunities for future engineers,” Cline said. “I owe a lot to ECU and being able to help other Pirates was an easy decision. This is also one of the reasons that I accepted a position on the EAB. As someone who has experienced how fantastic this program is and who has worked with the wonderful faculty and staff, I’m excited about what’s next for ECU engineering.”

Out on maternity leave, Cline didn’t realize she had been selected as a 40 Under Forty recipient.

“My best girlfriend, who works at ECU, called to celebrate with me as she saw it on social media, and I was still not yet in the know. So, shocked, yes!” she said.

Cline credits her mother, Betty Owens, as well as her husband, Brather Cline, who is also a 2016 ECU engineering graduate. She calls her decision to leave her Raleigh home to attend ECU a good one.

“ECU helped me realize what I was truly passionate about and afforded me many opportunities to explore those passions,” Cline said.

Antonia “Toni” Dingeman

After graduating in 2020, Dingeman began working at General Dynamics Missions Systems in Greensboro, where she is a senior systems engineer in the engineering leadership program. She’s also pursuing her master’s degree in electrical engineering from N.C. State.

She said she cherished her time at ECU, which included work as an orientation assistant, research assistant and teaching assistant. She was involvement in multiple clubs and organizations, including the ECU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. The club began an annual fundraising gala that supports various STEM education programs in Pitt County. She continues to support youth STEM education in her current role.

“The opportunities that I had during my time at ECU helped me grow into the best version of myself,” Dingeman said. “… All of these experiences improved both my leadership and technical skills, which have guided me on my career path. I am very grateful for East Carolina University.”

She credits her parents, Tracy and Mark Dingeman, for their support, as well as the faculty in the Department of Engineering.

“I wouldn’t be here without them,” she said.

And she’s looking out for those following her into a technical career field.

“Anyone who is remotely interested in pursuing a career in STEM, no matter who you are or what anyone says, just know that you are capable of anything you put your mind to,” Dingeman said.

She said she is looking forward to attending the 40 Under Forty Leadership Awards ceremony on Saturday.

“I feel honored and grateful to receive this recognition,” Dingeman said. “I am in the early stages of my career, so I still have a lot of room for growth, but I am looking forward to gaining insight from other honorees on how to continue making an impact in my community.”

Aaron-John “A.J.” Malicdem

A 2011 engineering graduate, Malicdem has taken his career on a different path. He works as a senior advisor U.S. Rep. Don Davis in Washington, overseeing the North Carolina congressman’s office staff and operations, among other duties.

“I advise the congressman on congressional operations and politics, provide insight for his legislative priorities and ensure that our role as public servants provides the quality service and federal assistance for our over 750,000 constituents,” he said.

Though he’s not working as an engineer, he takes ECU’s motto — sevire, to serve — to heart.

“ECU provided me the skills in building relationships surrounding the action of service to others,” he said.

While at ECU, Malicdem competed on the track team and represented the Student Government Association as well as his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, on the homecoming court. He said his education set the stage for his success.

“The Department of Engineering provided the foundation for my education that I continue to use to this day and that helps inform me on the science and technology policy portfolio that I manage for the congressman,” he said. “I believe it helps bridge the divide in the understanding of technology and policy, and finding that connection helps make informed decisions surrounding it.”

Malicdem said support from his significant other, Korrea, their son Kru, his parents Isidro and Cynthia, and his younger siblings Brandon, Coleen and Jacob has never wavered. He said he was proud and surprised to receive the 40 Under Forty recognition for something he does daily, which is to serve.

“I immediately told my loved ones and was just feeling the graciousness from my family and friends when the announcement was made,” he said. “It was so humbling.”