The 2006 Black Engineer of the Year was on the Larry Young Morning Show on Tuesday. An advocate for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, she talked about training, jobs, and opportunities at the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference.
At BEYA, you can find jobs or internships at a career fair, and get hired on the spot. There are STEM programs for girls and boys, soft skills training for college students, and great networking with STEM professionals. One of them is Ms. Linda Gooden, a multi-award winner, and a legacy award at BEYA named after her.
The story goes she was so blown away by the wonder-working IBM machines she saw many years ago, she decided that she wanted to be part of the bright computing future.
Speaking on the Larry Young Morning Show on Tuesday, Gooden said that’s why organizations like BEYA continue to be so important: They provide young people and parents information about the breadth of opportunities and pathways to perform, explore, and engage with STEM industries as well access to successful technology people.
“Looking back to 1972, few people had knowledge of computers or their potential impact on our lives,” Gooden said. “But technology has transformed entire industries. Our job as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals is to show the next generation how they can become a part of that future. It begins with generating excitement around STEM. In my heart, I’m still that eighteen-year-old girl peering into the computer center in awe of the giant machines. I’m still excited about the potential of technology to change our lives; to improve ourselves, our safety, and our economic wellbeing. We must find ways to create that same level of excitement for our youth.” Click here to listen
Gooden’s first job out of college was in software development, the springboard for a long and successful career in industry.
“The first step to success begins early in life,” Gooden said. She noted the recommendations in a recent report for adequate provision for students K-12. “Students should be made to understand the value of reading, math, and science,” she added. “We should make learning fun and adaptive with hands-on experience in computers, robotics, and artificial intelligence,” she said. “Today’s young people are the most technologically advanced in civilization. These digital natives understand the power of technology and have witnessed its power to create alternative futures. At a very early age, they are comfortable using smart devices,” Gooden said. Take a listen here.
A generation ago, Gooden saw a bachelor’s degree in computer science as a sure path to gain the skills for a new information age. In 2020, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations still require education and training beyond a high school diploma. No doubt about it, college is still important, but a recent article in the Baltimore Sun noted that in 2010 only 39 percent of Maryland high school graduates planned to pursue a traditional degree.
“Although we work very hard to make a four-year degree affordable and accessible for all students, I recognize a four-degree is not for everyone,” said Gooden, who is chair of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. The 21-member Board of Regents oversees the system’s academic operations and appoint the USM chancellor and the presidents of the system’s 12 institutions.
“The state of Mayland has an excellent and affordable community college system, where students can pursue a two-year degree or complete a number of certificate programs,” Gooden said. “The state is considering recommendations that call for a redesign of the high school curriculum that creates two tracks for students: one a high-level academic track for students who want to pursue a traditional degree and another track that’s all about career and technology programs. Upon graduation, the students enrolled in the career track will earn a certificate and training to prepare them for a number of careers. There are also many certificate programs offered across the University System of Maryland in high demand, high-paying areas. For example, the University of Maryland Global Campus offers certificate programs in cybersecurity, which is one of the hottest and most in-demand technologies today; human resource management, data analytics, and project management.” Listen to the full interview here.
Gooden has given many interviews to Career Communications Group’s Black Engineer and Women of Color magazines.
“You went to (Lockheed Martin) and said you needed $200,000 and we’re going to make $11Million in that year. But in fact, the seed money you received from the company was $600,000 and you made $24 Million in 12 months,” Taborn said. How does somebody come up with that kind of concept and make it work? Asked Taborn.
“It was actually $23.6Million,” Gooden said modestly of her now-legendary profit and loss account.
One of the most respected business leaders in defense and aerospace during her 40-year career, Gooden has served on the Board of Directors of General Motors, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP), The Home Depot, Inc., and Washington Gas Light Company.
The corporate world is not perfect admits Gooden, who retired as executive vice president at Lockheed Martin in 2013.
“In many ways, her career mirrors some of the cultural shifts society has gone through over 30 years,” wrote Nick Wakeman in Washington Technology magazine. “Greater opportunities for women and minorities in the business world and defense market in particular,” he noted along with the “challenges she had to stare down” before (and after) leading the largest provider of IT services to the federal government for a decade.
“There will always be stereotypes,” Gooden noted.
However, she added that women and men willing to earn a STEM degree, get a job in the field, apply themselves, and demonstrate consistently high performance will be treated fairly.
“Business exists to make a profit,” Gooden said, “and STEM talent is an essential enabler.”
To help focus on the things that mattered, Gooden created a go-to-battle list: rules that she gleaned from her experience of leading organizations of diverse people in the corporate world.
Her many external awards include Maryland Business Hall of Fame, Corporate Board Top 50 Women in Technology, and Greater Washington Contractor Awards’ Executive of the Year.
Here’s what she said about BEYA’s legacy in 2006.
“I am honored to be among this distinguished list of nominees; the 20th anniversary of the Black Engineer the Year Awards makes it even more special.
“The future offers even more opportunities. What we do today will set the stage for the next 20 years, just as those who walked down the aisle and accepted this award 20 years ago set the stage for us.”