(Morehead, KY) – We feature the DataseamGrid with thousands of computers working 24-hours a day to help researchers find new treatments for cancer. We talk about thousands of teachers benefiting from Dataseam workshops. We point with pride to Certified Technicians enhancing school technology. We highlight Dataseam Scholarships supporting college students. Sometimes it is nice to look at one student and what they have accomplished.
William Roach-Barrette – In His Own Words
My name is William Roach-Barrette. I am a Space Systems Engineer at Rajant Corporation. I am a student at the Morehead State University Space Science Center and a graduate of the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science. I grew up in Menifee County, Kentucky.
I would not be here today without Dataseam and other organizations that are changing Kentucky. I am a product of a system who believed the way forward for Kentucky was through its youth. I was incredibly lucky through my life. Even now, I am fortunate enough to have a job in my field and in the Commonwealth, something that seemed impossible eight years ago.
My fascination with technology began at a young age. As a toddler I was captivated by light switches. I begged my parents to move me from switch to switch so I could repeatedly turn the lights on and off. At age eleven I was awe-struck by the release of what would become one of the world’s most popular modern inventions, the iPhone.
At the time, I couldn’t afford to buy an iPhone, both the device and cell phone plan were far too much for a seventh-grade boy to justify to his parents. They did, find the money to buy an iPod Touch. It wasn’t long after I acquired this device I began finding ways to change it and make it more suited to me and my needs.
This led me to programing when Apple began allowing third parties to develop applications for the iPhone and the newly announced iPad. I was again motivated by Steve Jobs newest invention. I couldn’t wait to see what I could do with it.
I was now a freshman at Menifee County High School and the movie Avatar had just been released. Why is this important? Because this film inspired me to explore the idea of space as a career.
Modern space exploration was no more than a dream to me. I didn’t have the same sense of nostalgia felt by my elders who had lived through the space race. They remembered the deep sense of national pride, discovery, and progress happening during that time. In my lifetime I saw the Space Shuttle Columbia break into pieces and the Space Shuttle Atlantis deliver its last astronauts back to Earth. To see a film depicting space travel as an inconvenience and not an achievement gave me the desire to make my dream a reality.
Around this time another turning point in my life was taking place. Dataseam, a company I knew little about at the time, had been installing brand new iMacs in my school system. Such exposure to technology gave me enough knowledge in video production to start my own YouTube product review business. I reviewed accessories and applications for Apple products.
Kentucky Space Movie Project. Dataseam decided to sponsor a new competition for high schools in my region. The Kentucky Space Movie Project was born, and with it, a desire to learn more about the universe… and earn some cool technology. I began working with a team of students to create a documentary on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in our universe. The documentary explored the idea of aliens existing anywhere in our universe as well as the likelihood of a human alien encounter occurring over the course of our species’ existence. I won’t spoil the end for you, but will say teams from Menifee County took both first and second place that year.
This was the final push for me, but for not so obvious reasons. When I came to the Space Science Center, I met people who would become a crucial part of my life moving forward, role models who changed the world in their own way. They inspired me to make a career out of technology and space, and sparked the internal fire pushing me there.
More School Technology. Dataseam’s program was a primary reason the MSU Center for Regional Engagement and MSU 21st Century Enterprise provided iPads to school districts like mine. Dataseam was there when I had my interview for admission to The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, where I was driven to be the very best I could be. The two years spent at Gatton were the hardest years of my life. They were also hands down the two best years of school I ever had. I learned about myself and the world. When I graduated, I was prepared for my degree program. At Morehead State University Space Science Center phenomenal staff led by Dr. Ben Malphrus gave me the skills needed to be where I am today.
The Commonwealth is growing. We are finally beginning to nurse the wounds inflicted on our region from the death of coal and loss of other manufacturing jobs. State legislative efforts are beginning to bear fruit. Do not stop now or all we have worked for will shrivel and waste away. Growing a region starts with its youth and ends when we get jobs contributing back to Kentucky.
I am living proof. I had a dream children of Kentucky would grow up looking to the stars instead of under ground. We are getting there. I have a Kentucky-based career in space technology. We can grow Kentucky into something wonderful. It starts with organizations like Dataseam.
William Roach-Barrette, Morehead State University Space Science Student and Rajant Corporation Space Systems Engineer
Dataseam Scholarship at Morehead State University available for students pursuing STEM degrees including Space Science.
Profile Video created in 2015 with William Roach-Barrette.