STEM Insight is proud to introduce our third and final LEAD STEM Fellow
Lancaster County STEM Alliance is pleased to have three fellows participating in LEAD STEM’s 2018/2019 cohort. This yearlong leadership development experience is designed for National STEM Learning Ecosystem leaders and emerging leaders. Selected following a rigorous application process, LEAD STEM Fellows will participate in leadership programming that focuses on developing transferable core skills. Fellows will conclude their year with a capstone project that will focus on an area of need within the Lancaster Community.
Today, let’s meet Joel Walker!
Joel is the CEO and founder of Industrial Resolution, a full-service tech agency located in Lancaster City. Joel regularly combines his extensive background in technology with his passion and energy to bring people together around a common goal. In anticipation of the U.S. Women’s Open taking place in Lancaster County during 2015, Joel rallied a number of tech and marketing companies to compete as a team for the job of hosting the tournament’s official website. Joel’s approach was successful, and through the collaboration of Industrial Resolution and the other companies, the entirety of the tournament’s web presence was created and maintained by local talent. The connectivity of the STEM Ecosystem model interlocks with Joel’s drive to foster relationships and partnerships in the county. Recently, this has led him to begin collaborations with The Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon to develop a tech literacy and training program. This evolving project was fueled by a challenge from the Community-Based STEM Learning Committee of the LCSA, encouraging local non-profits to develop public-private partnerships that broaden STEM education opportunities available in the county, and help to create pipelines to STEM jobs.
We asked Joel about his interest in STEM, and what motivated him to apply for the LEAD STEM Fellowship. Here is what he had to say!
Why LEAD STEM?
“I have had the privilege of working closely with the Lancaster County STEM Alliance throughout the past few years and I’ve witnessed this cross-sector collaboration shine a prism of light onto some of the most critical economic issues of our day. The Alliance has been working to bring resolution to these issues to better make Lancaster County a competitive region to live and work in, for us and for our children. In light of that, there is no other arena I’d rather be. When the opportunity arose to participate in this year’s LEAD STEM national cohort, I jumped at the chance. I know that this program has successfully trained influential leaders all across the Nation to effectively hone the overall STEM aptitude in participant’s respective regions and I want to do my part to do the same for Lancaster County.”
How does your profession and your day-to-day work tie in with LEAD STEM?
“Industrial Resolution is a company which is forever tied to our world’s industrial revolutions. The many rapid changes caused by “(insert latest major technological advancement here)” affect our County’s landscape, our environment, our various workforces, and our social interactions. Quite often, these changes can be difficult to cope with. As technologists who are focused on the “T” in STEM, we find ourselves in perpetual motion, striving to bring resolution to many of those ever-changing challenges that our local businesses, community alliances, organizations and individuals face. I also own Pubforge, a tech focused co-working space and resource center, and the Central PA Open Source Conference an annual kick-butt tech conference rooted in all things open source.”
What are you most excited for about this upcoming experience?
“The sphere of people I will be able to collaborate with while tucking into projects I’m very passionate about is thrilling to me. I expect to build relationships which will last the rest of my lifetime.”
How do you see STEM transforming the Lancaster Community?
“I believe that getting more of our current workforce transitioned and fast tracked into high paying tech sector jobs will dramatically increase our GDP and spending power and will surely be an important part of Lancaster’s ability to stay competitive with other geographic regions. There is a race and we are in it. I also believe that tech jobs teach people to identify objectives, gather data, architect solutions and iterate iterate iterate until the problems are solved. If more of our citizens were able to do this in their own lives, wherever and whenever they are faced with seemingly unanswerable problems, we would all benefit from a more enlightened, peaceful and productive society. A skill set like that, coupled with a paycheck like that, would provide anyone with a renewed outlook on life.”
What is your vision for the Lancaster STEM Ecosystem in five years?
“In five years, I want to see thought leaders, urban planners, and economic corporations from all over the nation regularly traveling to Lancaster County to better learn how to effectively replicate our lifelong learning center model. Moreover, I’d like to basically add to the amazing work of the many organizations who collaborated to put together the “One Good Job” report. My addition? I’m going to convince whoever listens to me that what we really want to see in the neighborhoods of our city and throughout our county is one good tech job.”
What is your favorite thing about Lancaster?
“Lancaster is the most respectable place to come from on earth. Our homo sapiens may start the same as homo sapiens from elsewhere, but somewhere during our time here, there is, infused within us, a fabulous blend of steadiness, hardiness, frugality, pride and work ethic that I have yet to encounter anywhere else in the world. The good news is that this phenomenal blend is not genetically derived, but rather, culturally derived and it seems to me that we are all being steeped in this funky, yet healthy, Lancastrian tea. I’ve noticed that when new people move in, it takes them some time to adjust to, um, well, the smell mostly, (and I’m not just talking about the tea), but I’d say it’s a fair statement that, generally speaking, the longer anyone is in Lancaster, the better a person they typically become. Hyperbole much? Sure, but to quote the venerable Jeff Lebowski, “that’s just like, my opinion, though, man.”
What do you do when you aren’t being a STEM Fellow?
“I spend as much time as possible at home with my wife, two kids and our puppers. If there magically were more time in a day, I’d probably ride my motorcycle, work on my truck, snowboard, or rock climb.”