Greetings. My name is Darryl Lee Baynes. I am president and founder of the Minority Aviation Education Association, Inc. ( MAEA), and I am passionate about working with young people. Because of many years of hard work and determination, MAEA has become the nation's largest science and math outreach company owned and operated by minorities. Over the past 10 years, MAEA has developed more than 60 interactive science programs designed to get young people excited about science and math. Based in Wheeling, West Virginia, MAEA remains committed to the following objectives:

  • Educating students, teachers, and the community regarding the history of minorities in science, math, and technology in order to provide role models.

     

  • Exposing minority students to the major sciences through practical applications and demonstrations, thereby educating them about the relevance of science in everyday life, with the intention of stimulating future career interest.

  • Helping students interested in science, math, engineering, computer science, or any related technological field secure financial assistance, thus enabling them to pursue postsecondary education.

     

  • Increasing the number of minorities and females employed in commercial aviation, science, math, and high-tech fields, where they have been traditionally underrepresented.

  • My journey began as a young boy growing up in Philadelphia during the 1960s. I realized that I had an intimate love of science and aviation that was encouraged by a loving mother who supported me with mail-order science kits and trips to airports and science museums. My mother always told me there wasn't anything I couldn't do, and I believed it. Her never-ending guidance became the foundation of my future in science and aviation.

    Some of my most vivid memories were of our trips to the Franklin Institute. The displays, exhibits, and live demonstrations excited my imagination, but there were no African Americans or women performing those experiments. The lasting effect of that experience prompted me to do whatever it took to increase the number of minorities in science.

    In 1979, several colleges were recruiting me with scholarship offers based on my athletic abilities. The head coach of Temple University expressed concern about my majoring in the sciences. He felt it was "too hard and competitive." This authority figure supported what the media and society were already telling me. I will never forget what that coach said. I'm not sure how he meant it, but I knew how I took it.

    Later that year I decided to attend the University of Pittsburgh, where I majored in chemistry. In 1985, my track scholarship ended with only three courses left for the degree. I left school temporarily and supported myself with a variety of jobs. During this time, I met and married my wife, Linda, who was invaluable in helping me organize my school outreach science programs. My typical schedule included driving an hour to my nightshift job at the post office, picking up supplies at Pitt, doing my own outreach on some days and volunteering at the Carnegie Science Center on other days, then driving an hour home.

    During this time, I joined the Civil Air Patrol and met FAA employee Tom Lawson, who became interested in our activities. Together with Linda, we incorporated the Minority Aviation Education Association. I received my private pilot's license in 1993 and eventually completed those three classes at the University of Pittsburgh. I received my B.S. in chemistry in 1995.

    We moved to West Virginia, and with the help of Dave Dimellio and Gary Warnock, coordinators of the science outreach van program at the University of Pittsburgh, began another division of outreach called MAEA Interactive Science Programs. To date, we've presented almost 1500 programs to nearly 1 million students, teachers, and parents. Our dream doesn't stop there. Together with Wheeling Jesuit University, we hope to generate funds that will allow us to open the MAEA Science Center. This new 9300-square-meter facility will house hands-on and interactive exhibits. Our laboratories will not only cover the traditional sciences but will also introduce students to a variety of fields including FBI forensics, water quality, and the science of architecture. Additional space in the facility will house a research greenhouse, theatre, and a mobile planetarium. The MEAE Science Center will be the first African American science center in the nation.

    The journey of our growth has been fascinating and equally trying at times, but well worth the sacrifices. Our success can be measured not only by the number of students we impact, but also by the fulfillment of dreams I've carried since my youth. As the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, "Judge me not by the heights to which I have soared but rather by the depths from which I have come."