Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO, Ray Conner and his wife donated $300,000 to Central Washington University. Conner, who is a graduate of the university, said that he attributes much of his success to “honing his skills” at his alma mater. The two annual $15,000 scholarships are dedicated to students pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).
While the Wright Brothers did not have the benefit of a formal technical education, their research work on controlling a heavier-than-air aircraft in three dimensions would be a blueprint for the academic study now called aeronautical engineering. The development of future generations of all aircraft depends on young graduates in STEM; however, most educators and all of the aviation industry recognize that the forecasts for future STEM graduates are not encouraging.
The Boeing Company and June Boeing, the widow of William E.Boeing Jr (son of Boeing Company founder William Edward Boeing) separately pledged a sum of $30M to create the Boeing Academy for STEM Learning. Mr. Conner was the company’s representative at the ceremony coincidentally. That initiative will hopefully attract some of the bright young female and male minds to these critical disciplines.
What is impressive here is that Boeing’s CEO has chosen to create a legacy at his now college to promote STEM. Collectively, Mr. Conner’s personal efforts, the rocketry program by AIA, ExxonMobil’s Sally Ride Science Academy, GAMA’s Build-a-Plane exercise, a local school and others may remedy this dire situation.
Congratulations Mr. and Ms. Conner for taking a symbolically important step towards bringing our next generation to STEM. By highlighting your benefaction, other concerned corporations and individuals may follow your superb example.