As a young boy, Cory Weathers didn’t know repairing his grandmother’s stereo system would help shape his future into becoming an award-winning military aerospace engineer.
Three decades and three degrees later, the 37-year-old father of two is championing the STEM industry. Weathers now has a new mission to help diversify the STEM workforce as the deputy chief engineer for United Kingdom Military Aircrew Training at Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company. He recently won the 2019 The Linda Gooden Legacy Black Engineer of the Year Award for Managerial Leadership at the STEM Global Competitiveness Conference. Linda Gooden is a Black woman who made her mark as an aerospace and engineering leader at Lockheed Martin.
Weathers wants to use his platform and personal story to help inspire the next generation of Black engineers. The Baltimore native says it is critical for students of color to see professionals who look like them.
Weathers went to high school at a STEM-focused public high school in Baltimore, which he attributes to helping spark STEM in his life alongside his grandmother, family, and community. To help strive toward his goal of diversifying the industry, Weathers volunteers with middle school and elementary students doing STEM activities in the Orlando area.
“Every year I try to find a new and different way to get involved with students who show interest in STEM education,” Weathers says. For the students who don’t show interest, Weathers tries to convey to them that STEM affects every aspect of people’s lives. “You can either be solely a consumer and affected by what comes out of the work or you can have the opportunity to make an impact and control and create the outcomes that come from work in STEM fields,” Weathers says.
Weathers says some of his colleagues and mentees were raised in predominantly African American communities and graduated from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “Oftentimes, their first experience feeling like they’re part of a minority group is when they enter the workforce,” Weathers says.
STEM employment has grown nearly 80 percent since 1990, according to research from Pew Research Center. However, Black and Hispanic and Latinx workers are still underrepresented in the STEM industry. African Americans account for 11 percent of the United States workforce overall, but represent 9 percent of STEM workers, researchers say. Workers identifying as Hispanic and Latinx make up 16 percent of the U.S. workforce but only 7 percent of all STEM workers, according to the research. Less than 5 percent of engineers are Black, a 2015 National Science Foundation report found.
For more information about the Linda Gooden Legacy Black Engineer of the Year Award, visit www.blackengineer.com.