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Born and raised in Compton, California, Darryl Barnes knows firsthand the complex challenges facing many students at schools in developing areas. He decided to do something about it.
An electronics and test production manager at Northrop Grumman’s Space Park location, Barnes has a long history of volunteering on his own time and through our Employee Resource Groups. His goal is to expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach to schools in underserved areas of the Los Angeles area.
His focus is centered around overcoming bias and systemic barriers by exposing and educating young students in STEM, as well as encouraging them to pursue career opportunities in these fields.
“It’s a great honor to share my journey with students in more urban areas and expose them to opportunities they may not have otherwise thought possible,” Barnes said. “I easily connect with the kids because I was one of them.”
Setting an Example
As a student, Barnes liked to tinker with everything – the very heart of engineering. He first considered a career in the field when one of his high school teachers, who shared a similar background and passion for creating, noticed he had a natural talent for engineering. Through encouragement, resources and support from his teacher, Barnes realized a career in engineering wasn’t just possible but attainable.
Through this relationship, Barnes learned the value in finding a representative mentor – someone who looked, sounded or, in other ways, resembled him.
Today, Barnes is going on 40 years at Northrop Grumman as an engineer – still driven by building new things and passionate about mentoring young students. He shares his story as an example of what students can achieve if they work hard and persevere.
“There’s a difference between telling someone they can do something and showing them they can,” Barnes said. “I want to show them that, while the path may be hard, it’s doable.”
A Lasting Impact
For Barnes, giving back to the community is as much about the immediate impact as it is about the ripple effect. Looking to build lasting relationships, he makes it a point to give each student a way to contact him in case they have future questions.
In addition, he’s sponsored seven young people to attend college with the desire to provide enough financial support for them to remain encouraged to achieve their educational goals.
“When you volunteer, you never know whose life you’re going to affect and/or change,” he said.
Inspired by his own experiences, Barnes uses Northrop Grumman resources, including its network of strategic partners and focused programs, to address bias and systemic barriers to achieving STEM careers. His efforts strike at the heart of Northrop Grumman’s commitment to empowering a strong, diverse STEM workforce.
Visit the My Giving Portal to find STEM volunteer opportunities and check out the Engineers Week page for events and activities happening Feb. 19-23. View this webinar to learn more about E-Week or contact your Corporate Citizenship Representative.
Barnes, far right, speaks alongside Northrop Grumman volunteers to students at Fremont High School in south Los Angeles about various paths toward STEM-based careers.
Written by: Jillian Verzwyvelt