Hannah Roberts, a UTSA social media and communications student and intern for Cleary Zimmerman Engineers, is a part of a project with UTSA to contribute to the Go Public campaign. Roberts interviewed Wade Cleary, the company’s managing principal, about STEM curriculum, student pathways, and thoughts on education and the business sector.
ROBERTS: Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get you to where you are today. What were your choices in education, classes, and internships?
CLEARY: In high school, I realized engineering was the path I wanted to take. I sought out course electives that would prepare me for the challenges ahead. I took as many physics, science, and math electives as I could squeeze into my course schedule. There weren’t nearly as many options back then as there are today. For instance, my children can take calculus in high school, which wasn’t an option for my generation. We also didn’t have advanced placement (AP and pre-AP) classes that gave us college credit, but I did take advantage of all the STEM-related courses offered. My Dad is an electrical engineer, and I thought I wanted to follow an electrical engineering career like him. It was during my first year in college that I was finally able to compare and contrast the electrical and mechanical side of things. I saw that mechanical engineering came far more natural for me than electrical engineering.
ROBERTS: Since you have had a lot of success in mechanical engineering, what would you say was your most significant contributor to that success?
CLEARY: I have been fortunate to surround myself with good people, like mentors oﬀering advice or leading by example. Being surrounded by good people has made things a lot easier. I am also persistent and determined, and I think that has certainly helped.
ROBERTS: Looking at Cleary Zimmermann Engineers as a whole, I see that the company is a sponsor of Go Public. Is there a particular reason why you chose that movement to sponsor?
CLEARY: It’s probably two-fold. We do a lot of work with K-12 students with outreach programs, and we support the schools by designing and building the systems that serve their needs. Also, we admire the Go Public mission. Public schools ARE doing great things, and they needed a way to voice and show what they are accomplishing and what they are doing. We wanted to recognize them for the great job they are doing.
ROBERTS: Why you think is essential that schools include STEM in their curriculum?
CLEARY: Well, obviously I’m biased, but science, technology, engineering, and math are critical to the success of our nation and for society in general. Often overlooked by students and people, we need to promote the STEM disciplines and help our community understand that it is an exciting field. Quite frankly, I feel like other countries are doing a better job of promoting studies in STEM, and if we want to continue to stay on a trajectory of growth and success, then we need to find creative ways inform the public.
ROBERTS: Speaking of growth and success of our country, how do you think that STEM can shape the future for the next generation?
CLEARY: I think there are many technological advances. STEM curriculum can make a direct impact on students. It’s a fulfilling area of study and I think future generations will be well be served by it.
ROBERTS: If you could only give one piece of advice to the next generation, whether it be about achieving goals, school, etc., what would it be?
CLEARY: It would be ‘never give up’ and always make sure to set a goal for themselves. If you hit a bump in the road or a dead end, then you back-up and try to find another way around. You don’t give up and continue to pluck away at it. Always continue to be persistent in life.