Learning, design and technology doctoral student supports youth through STEM programs
Friday, October 1, 2021
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Darron Lamkin is pursuing his doctorate in learning, design and technology in hopes of better serving and supporting inner-city youth through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.
Ten years ago, Lamkin founded Class Matters, an organization that provides STEM exposure to socially and economically disadvantaged youth in Oklahoma City. In addition to career exploration, the program aims to empower students to make a difference within their own lives and the lives of others.
“I want to help students realize they’re bigger than the limits people put on them,” Lamkin said. “Class Matters comes from a sense that how you carry yourself in class matters. It comes from a sense of excellence.”
Class Matters STEM activities include using the engineering design process to repurpose and reverse engineer recyclables or household items identified as junk. Students salvage parts from toys or broken electronics to recreate something with new meaning. Not only do students learn that products exist to meet various needs, but they also learn that every problem has multiple solutions.
“Upon completion of any design or STEM project, we tie in a life skill,” Lamkin said.
Lamkin, a mechanical engineer for Boeing who already holds three OSU degrees, chose the College of Education and Human Sciences learning, design and technology program because of its emphasis on integrating technology into the teaching and learning process.
“I offer engineering educational seminars to colleges and universities as a way to fundraise for Class Matters,” Lamkin said. “I started to receive numerous virtual presentation requests, and I would decline because of the anxiety I had about presenting through a virtual platform.”
The learning, design and technology doctoral program is equipping him with the skills needed to develop and confidently deliver digital training curriculum for community-based and non-profit organizations in Oklahoma and beyond.
“Adding a remote platform would increase impact and capacity for STEM exposure and access,” Lamkin said.
Lamkin’s dissertation research analyzes how nontraditional environments, like churches and community centers, can be leveraged for after-school programming. He has already published several research articles describing the Class Matters program with his faculty advisor Dr. Tutaleni Asino, associate professor of learning, design and technology. A key theme has been the role of recyclables and household items in promoting creativity and problem-solving.
Whether through his current or future pursuits, Lamkin’s main objective is ensuring those around him know their worth and dream big.
“If you hear something repeatedly, eventually you become it,” Lamkin said. “I wanted to help people find their pathway in spite of their environment or the labels that have been given to them.”