Glen Shumate is the Executive Vice President for Construction Employers Association and the Executive Director of Ace Pathway Mentor Program, an afterschool program designed to attract high school students into pursuing careers in the Architecture, Construction and Engineering industry. Glen explores his diverse career background and how he has come to understand STEM is everywhere.
“You don’t need to be or necessarily know that you want to spend the rest of your life doing something, but become proficient, enough that it becomes a tool in your tool belt”
What does STEM mean to you?
I would say it’s a career area that utilizes more of reasoning and science or reasoning and data versus the soft skill science of H.R., community relations, or public relations– and not that those elements don’t have a measurement or data component because you certainly can measure communications openings and effectiveness as well as changes in behavior, attitude, and all those things, but in a much more dedicated direct way.
When you were 12 or 13-years old, what interests did you have? How did you begin to explore what you wanted to do after you left high school and went on to college?
We don’t know what we know until we know it. It’s hard to know what you want to do until there’s been some level of exposure, so to me, it starts with being exposed to something and being excited or enlightened by something that intrigued you enough that you want to go further once you’ve been exposed to it. The 12-year-old Glen was figuring out how things work and sometimes being destructive and tearing things apart to get to know houses really work, then trying to make it work again after having taken it apart. It was also having a father that was always tinkering with things around the house or cars and kind of the hands-on aspect of learning how to do things and I would say a lot of that was probably done just out of more necessity than hobby– not necessarily having all the financial resources to go out and hire a plumber.
What advice do you have for kids today?
Most things in life matter. You may find a place where you can apply some of the things you want to learn in school and you want to be open-minded enough to at least grasp the concepts. You don’t need to be or necessarily know that you want to be an expert in it and spend the rest of your life doing something, but become proficient, efficient enough that it becomes a tool in your tool belt.
We have to expand our understanding, our awareness, our experiences in a way that will add more meaningfulness to us. And so the other side of that in another practical human way is engaging with people. You should not be afraid to ask a question to engage with somebody that may be doing something just: “What are you doing and why?” We all come across people in our lives that can turn on light bulbs or create energy or magic by us just asking a question or else just observing or paying attention.