3M Awards Skillpoint volunteer Walter Romanko

WRomanko, Van de Graaff Generator, Bullock

Skillpoint Alliance was excited to receive a $250 donation from 3M, in recognition of Dr. Mr. Walter Romanko contributing over 100 hours of volunteer time to the Central Texas Discover Engineering (CTDE) program, which connects schools with engineers who host a hands-on project to raise awareness about the excitement of STEM careers. In 2014, engineers like Dr. Romanko reached over 7,000 students! We interviewed Dr.Romanko about his award and his outlook on his volunteering around the community.

How did you first get involved with Skillpoint Alliance / CTDE?
About 8 years ago, I was asked by a CTDE volunteer to help out on a school visit to an elementary school in Round Rock. From that point, I was hooked! It was great interacting with the students, watching them learn, and listen to their observations. After several years of volunteering for various CTDE events, I became a Steering Committee Member.

What is the best part of being a CTDE Volunteer?
Learning from the students. Every time I “teach”, I end up learning a lot about the students as well as myself. The students are quite creative and resourceful, and it refreshes and reinvigorates me to think about problems in a different way.

How has your employer supported your effort to volunteer in the community?
3M is extremely supportive in all of my volunteer efforts. 3M is fully engaged in the community, supporting numerous outreach programs and encouraging volunteerism in the community. The 3M Matching Grant of $250 for my “20 hours” work with CTDE (my CTDE work last year was well over 100 hours) is an example of 3M promoting volunteerism. Russell Bridges, our 3M Austin Public Relations Manager, promotes volunteering throughout 3M, as does management within my Division.

How did your volunteer work turn into a $250 donation?
20 hours of volunteering for a non-profit organization in a calendar year allows a 3M employee to apply for a Matching Grant. As noted above, my 100+ hours of work with CTDE easily gave me the opportunity to take advantage of this resource and get much needed cash to support CTDE in their endeavors.

Why is it important for engineers to volunteer in the community?
Engineers are an important resource to our society because they solve myriads of problems involving infrastructure, energy, medicine, transportation, and communications, to name a few. Engineers are important now and will be just as important, if not more, in the future. Therefore, it is imperative that we excite students with STEM at an early age so that our society continues to develop engineers that can creatively apply science to problems in everyday life.

Congratulations to Dr. Mr. Romanko for earning a 3M Matching Grant and for his continued efforts to inspire and prepare the next generation of engineering heroes!

To volunteer OR to request an engineer at your school, please visit: