Qorvo inspires next generation through STEM initiative
By Melinda Guravich, staff writer
Qorvo inspires employees and the next generation through the STEM initiative
How do STEM careers start? Marvin Harris, foundry engineer with Qorvo, Inc. (photo at right), knew he wanted to become an engineer in seventh grade after attending a summer outreach program at Purdue University. “I fell in love with electrical engineering,” he said. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue and master’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech.
Marvin is Qorvo’s corporate champion for the Tech Titans STEM initiative. The S&P 500 company provides innovative radio frequency solutions at the center of connectivity.
Roger Hall, general manager for the Infrastructure & Defense Products and a Tech Titans board member, brought the initiative to Qorvo. Growing up on a Kansas farm, Roger witnessed the poverty and desperation of people trapped in a small rural community, limited by their education choices. All but one of his classmates still live within 30 miles of where they grew up.
For Roger, STEM was the key to a larger world. “I was fortunate to have my dad as a mentor,” said Roger. ““STEM education was his ticket to become a top fighter pilot, and later, to prosper as a successful farmer. He returned to his roots, leveraging his STEM mindset to bring new methods and technologies to a place where change was not easily accepted.”
Roger has a passion for helping kids follow their own dreams of achievement and for providing them with STEM mentorship and role models. He knew that Marvin was also engaged in outreach to students; just the right person to coordinate Qorvo’s employee volunteer participation.
“I am committed to showing kids that engineering can be cool,” said Marvin. “Here’s what we do, here’s the path and here are the steps to pursue this career.” He recruits Qorvo employees for the STEM initiative, matching skills and interests with volunteer opportunities, and also organizes logistics for many events and facility tours.
“The benefit is seeing kids’ faces light up when they hear about engineering careers and grasp the possibilities,” said Marvin, who has three children of his own. He enjoys seeing students who return to Qorvo for subsequent events. “They still have the Qorvo badges we gave them during their first visit. They remember the experience and take pride in having their very own badge with their name on it,” he adds.
A value proposition that matches company culture
The STEM initiative is a great fit with Qorvo’s corporate culture. “Connecting with kids changes lives and changes the world,” said James Klein, president of Infrastructure and Defense Products.
“STEM education is a key focus of the Qorvo Cares Community Engagement program,” said Katie Caballero, senior marketing communications manager. The Tech Titans program provides employees with opportunities to engage and give back to their communities.
To date, more than 50 Qorvo employees have volunteered their time and expertise by participating in 80-plus events, from engineering career panel presentations and tours of Qorvo’s facilities to design challenges, STEM camps and speed mentoring.
Marvin explains the program and volunteer options to Qorvo employees and helps them find a fit with their availability and interests, from chaperoning tours to eating lunch with kids and answering their questions.
Participating in the STEM initiative is also a relationship builder for employees. Marvin has come to know volunteers across the company, from product engineers and chemical engineers to team members in fabrication, failure analysis and human resources.
“Roger and James were the frontrunners of getting Qorvo involved,” said Marvin. They’ve made the time to speak with kids during these programs, as have other members of the senior management team like Vijay Balakrishna, senior director of research. “Vijay is very inspirational, very pro-STEM,” Marvin adds.
Expanding virtual STEM opportunities and connections
“COVID has only strengthened our commitment to succeed,” said Roger. In his thought leadership presentation during the Tech Titans Awards Gala, he talked about how the STEM committee quickly moved to virtual programs and continued its outreach.
Qorvo was one of the first corporate sponsors of the STEM Question Challenge. The program launched in the wake of school shutdowns to provide STEM learning opportunities and address food insecurity issues exacerbated by the pandemic. “This program came at such a crucial time,” said Beth Brown, director of Richardson ISD’s career and technical education (CTE) program.
Employees are participating in virtual Diversity in Engineering and Successful Women in Engineering panels. Going virtual expanded connection opportunities for both students and company volunteers. Rich Kellen, Qorvo’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in the company’s Hillsboro, Oregon, office recently participated in a virtual engineering panel with junior high students.
“These are challenging times,” said Roger. “This initiative engages employee volunteers, providing an outward and forward-focused opportunity to give back to the community. It gives kids hope and connects them to key employers.”
Qorvo’s continuing sponsorship of the STEM initiative is helping to keep students engaged in STEM learning. “We’re pushing forward as active participants in new ways,” said Marvin.
Be a STEM champion
Join Qorvo and Tech Titans in sustaining and expanding the STEM workforce pipeline. For more information contact Dave Galley, Tech Titans STEM director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 469-951-8239.