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UW Engineering Alumnus Honored for Outreach STEM Work

January 4, 2018
man standing outside
Dwight Lee Bates, a 1966 UW graduate, was chosen as a Science Channel “Science Superhero” last month. During December, he was featured four times on the television channel in a 30-second promotional spot and on the Science Channel website. (Dwight Lee Bates Photo)

Dwight Lee Bates has a passion for inspiring young people to learn about math and science. His work in that area earned him a national honor recently.

Bates, who graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1966 with degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering, uses his vast industry knowledge to educate elementary classrooms in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in Ellensburg, Wash.

His work earned him a nod as a “Science Superhero” for the month of December from the Science Channel. He was featured four times throughout December on the television channel in a 30-second promotional spot and on its website at The commercial spot can be viewed at

Bates worked as an engineer for 44 years in the aviation, shipbuilding and automotive fields. He was employed as an engineer in the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Navy, Boeing and Warn Industries.

Now, he is a STEM Engineering Fellow for the South Central Washington STEM Network. His current endeavor involves talking to schoolchildren about the opportunities available in STEM and engineering. He also wrote and published his own book, “Due Diligence - Memoirs of the Life of an Engineer and Outdoorsman.”

His message to students is that STEM careers are the wave of the future and will ensure a pathway to success. Bates cited that, by 2022, there will be 9 million STEM-related jobs in the United States.

“We are reimagining and revitalizing STEM education across Washington,” he says. “We take an entrepreneurial approach to our work by incubating breakthrough ideas in STEM teaching and learning; investing in communities to seed STEM networks; scaling promising practices across the state; and building a STEM movement to advocate for policy change.”

A student who participated in a STEM workshop led by Bates described his experience, which included a visit to Bates’ shop and flying in a plane flown by Bates’ friend, Aaron Chapin.

“He came in our room because he wanted to get kids excited about being an engineer when they grow up, and he helped us with our STEM Challenge,” writes Adam Elish, a student in the STEM workshop. “The cool thing about that was that, a few weeks ago, our teacher gave our class an assessment, and we wrote about what we thought an engineer was, and I happened to write about aerospace engineering and said I wanted to be one myself. So, that was a great conversation starter with Mr. Bates. I started to talk to him about how and why I wanted to be an aerospace engineer.”

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