College Alumnus Recognized by White House as Champion of Change
A Penn State alumnus was honored at a recent White House ceremony as a Champion of Change. Kevin Clark (’94 Ph.D. INSYS) was recognized for his innovative approach to providing access and diversity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
Clark is the director of George Mason University’s Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity and a professor in the College of Education and Human Development.
“I was completely taken aback because this was something that I never expected. I do the work that I do because I want to positively impact the lives of youth in traditionally underserved communities, not to get awards. I was humbled and very appreciative of this honor,” Clark said.
“The best part of the event was the opportunity to meet the other honorees who I probably wouldn't have met normally. They were brilliant and amazing in their own right and I enjoyed learning about their work and exploring ways to collaborate and support each others’ efforts.”
Clark’s recent activities have focused on the use of video game design to increase interest in STEM careers.
“I think my research that utilizes video game design and robotics to motivate elementary, middle and high school youth to participate in STEM disciplines and careers was of interest to the White House,” Clark said. “Additionally, I think my work around diversity in children’s media and its connection to education and engagement were also a factor.”
Clark earned a B.S. and an M.S. in computer science from North Carolina State before coming to Penn State to pursue a Ph.D. in instructional systems.
“Penn State’s instructional systems program was the perfect melding of my computer science background and my interest in education,” Clark said.
While at University Park, Clark said a faculty member in his program — Kyle Peck, professor of education and research fellow — helped arrange a summer internship with Jostens Learning in San Diego. That was Clark’s first exposure to the design and development of educational software. From there he worked for a start-up company for five years.
That experience led to a two-year stint at San Jose State University. From there, Clark moved to George Mason, where he began his research and programs focused on the use and design of educational video games to motivate participation in STEM by traditionally underserved youth. Today, Kevin continues his work to broaden participation in STEM disciplines, while increasing his activities related to the design and development of children's media.
-- by Andy Elder (April 2014)