The fifth annual Career STEAMposium event takes place on Saturday, but the impact of the interactive technology and arts event could bring a lifetime of change for young people, said Boeing’s Clark D. Rucker.
Rucker is a primary powerhouse behind the STEAMposium on March 20, a virtual interactive event which introduces middle and high school students to a wealth of science, technology, engineering, arts and math experts.
Rucker has devoted his life to helping young people connect with careers within the STEAM fields. Rucker is the Sr. Manager-Director of the Phantom Works Quality organization within Boeing Defense, Space and Security and Boeing is a leading sponsor of STEAMposium.
“With STEAMposium, the young people get the understanding that they can be whatever they want to be,” said Rucker. “They’ll hear from speakers who have the same kind of backgrounds as they have, and who look like they do. They’ll get information in a new form. And they can interact and connect with these people.”
In partnership with the Pasadena chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, STEAMposium is presented by the Gamma Zeta Boulé Foundation.
“Clark has a personal vested interest in empowering the next generation which he undoubtedly demonstrates by his STEAMposium leadership,” said Ramsey Jay Jr. president of the Gamma Zeta Boulé Foundation. “Clark’s commitment is infectious across the entire volunteer team and, most importantly, his model of commitment is critical in activating the desire to learn in all of the students.”
Jay who has a background in finance and business as well as motivational speaking, teamed with Elise Mallory of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., of Pasadena, and Rucker to develop STEAMposium into its present form.
Rucker has made many connections over the course of his career. He is Senior Manager-Director of the Phantom Works Quality organization within Boeing Defense, Space and Security. He leads the overall strategy, program integration, management and personnel development of the Phantom Works Quality organization across the Boeing Company and interacts with a range of people.
He has spent a lifetime in the technology field and he said his own interest in technology came early on and he sought out the opportunities to fulfill his destiny.
“When I was younger my passion was technology related,” Rucker said. “I was fascinated with finding out how things work. I always wanted to take things apart. Children have that curious brain, we want to understand and know more. I look at the younger people today and they all have that same wonderment about how do things work and being more engaged in exploring that set of ideas.
“The Internet has opened up information and tools for them,” Rucker said. “It’s amazing the information that’s out there. There are so many avenues a student can learn from so they can be who they want to be.”
Rucker graduated Cal Poly Pomona and went on to obtain his executive masters in business administration, management and operations from Claremont College. He said finding a career is a lifelong journey that begins in school. He learned from his father, Charles D. Rucker, who was an artist, an Air Force veteran, a police officer and a college instructor.
Rucker said he encouraged his own children, Christopher and Candace, to move in the directions that motivate them, but which also serve as moneymaking careers. Christopher has gone on to use his own art talents as a landscape architect and Candace is working in promotions, using her degree in psychology.
Rucker became motivated to help young people after seeing his dad work with Christopher and his classmates in school. Then the two of them made their classroom visits a regular occurrence. It led Rucker to mentor and help many young people during his career and he derives immense satisfaction from that.
“My dad was my primary motivator,” Rucker said. “My dad was in the Air Force, then he became a police officer and after that became an instructor of juvenile justice and all that time, through his professional career he was an artist. He was my primary motivator.
Rucker discovered his passion for working with students by watching his father when he brought him into Christopher’s elementary school class.
“My dad would talk about art and I would talk about technology,” he recalled. “As we got older he couldn’t do it any more and I continued on.”
One of Rucker’s mentees, field engineer Karsten Bush said she feels fortunate to connect with her passion in time to make a career out of it. She said if young people are exposed to opportunities, they will rise.
“Clark was a mentor to me,” she said. “He wanted to help me. Now I’m working as a field engineer. I didn’t think I’d end up where I am I thought I would be working more in chemistry. But as a field engineer I’m learning a lot.”
Bush said young people should have an open mind about the future and tap their passion and they’ll find success.
“I think you have to be open to learning something new and enjoying that,” she said. “When I started I knew nothing. From my own experience a lot of people don’t get introduced to engineering until later in life. I think just being genuinely curious and having the passion to create something is really important. Even though engineering isn’t considered an ‘artistic’ field there are elements of creativity.”
Co-presenter of STEAMposium, Elise Mallory agreed, adding that that women are represented in the STEAM fields in ever growing numbers.
“Clark’s commitment to STEAM and helping to mentor students into these professions goes across all genders,” Mallory said. “For example, his mentoring of Karsten Bush.
“Karsten was on the Career STEAMposium panel a few years ago. And, our ongoing theme is we want people who attend the event to see that some day they too can be like the people they see presenting. It’s important for people to see what they want to be.”
As for Saturday, Rucker said the virtual event will be of great value to everyone.
“The young people will get the understanding that they can be whatever they want to be,” Rucker said. “They’ll hear from speakers who have the same kind of backgrounds as they have and who look like they do. They’ll get information in a new form. And they can interact and connect with these people and that’s important.”
For more information on STEAMposium or to attend go here.