While every award is special, some are more meaningful than others. When Cory Weathers trotted up to the stage to accept an award as a leading African American engineer, the moment was simultaneously an homage to the past and the future.
In accepting an award recognizing his managerial leadership achievements at Lockheed Martin, Weathers, who earned an MBA at Northeastern in 2012, thanked his family but singled out his grandmother for a special shout-out. It was her undying support and encouragement to pursue a career in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields that propelled him to become the first in his family to earn a four-year college degree and work professionally as an engineer.
Weathers described the experience, which took place at the 2019 Black Engineer of the Year Awards STEM conference in Washington, D.C., in February, as “incredibly humbling.” The accolade was special, he said, because it was conferred on him before his peers in the aerospace and defense industry, as well as before the government and military representatives with whom they work.
The commendation also signaled to the black STEM students and young professionals in the audience, many of whom Weathers mentors locally in his free time, that through hard work and determination, they, too, can become successful and respected in their industries.
“To be able to share that recognition with them and provide to them an example of the types of recognition that they might look to and be able to experience in their career, it was a very gratifying feeling,” Weathers said of his award, which is named after Linda Gooden, a former executive vice president at Lockheed Martin, and that honors the best and brightest African American professionals working in the STEM fields.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, black workers continue to be underrepresented in the STEM fields, comprising 11 percent of the American workforce overall but representing only 9 percent of STEM workers. Among adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, African Americans make up only 7 percent of the STEM workforce. The study also concludes that African Americans tend to be concentrated in less lucrative STEM jobs and, as such, face a pay disparity.
Weathers is deputy chief engineer for Lockheed Martin’s UK Military Flying Training System program. In this role, he manages the execution of projects that deliver state-of-the-art flight training systems and capabilities to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence. In the 10 years he’s worked for the company, he has held a number of technical roles, most notably helping to develop Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D simulation software platform, which has been used to develop simulation software and content that is used to train F-35 pilots. On the side, Weathers advocates for the next generation of black STEM professionals by supporting events and programs that celebrate diversity at Lockheed Martin’s Orlando site.
Weathers, a native of Baltimore, said he was introduced to Lockheed Martin when the company funded his research project while he was getting his master’s degree in industrial and system engineering at North Carolina A&T State University.
While juggling a family and a blossoming career at Lockheed Martin, Weathers enrolled in Northeastern’s online MBA program in 2010, an experience that he says taught him an important skill: how to collaborate and complete projects online with people from different companies and career disciplines. In his current role, he is required to develop relationships electronically with colleagues who are stationed at various bases across the United Kingdom.
“That’s been a skill that I’ve been able to apply and that I had to strengthen and develop as part of my studies with Northeastern,” he said.
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