April 13, 2016
UTRC spotlights employee volunteers during National Volunteer Week

EAST HARTFORD, Connecticut – United Technologies Research Center, (UTRC) celebrated its employee volunteer "heroes" this week by asking some of them why they volunteer...in their own words. UTRC is proud to recognize its many volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 10-16.


Treese Campbell, Staff Scientist

How long have you been a volunteer? "I've been a volunteer for more than 30 years."

What drew you to volunteering?
"I think it's a part of one's job responsibility. When I was in graduate school, one of my professors was adamant about volunteering in activities that promote an interest in science and engineering. And when I worked at Dow Chemical, volunteer participation in the local American Chemical Society group was expected and volunteering was considered a part of an employee's annual performance review. So it is something that has been ingrained in me for a long time."

For what organization(s) do you volunteer and why?
"I volunteer for the Connecticut Science Fair, Science Olympiad, and various United Way events. I am also involved with volunteering at my children's school events. I feel it's important to be a steward for UTRC...to share with the community the investment the company makes in me."

What about volunteering do you find most rewarding?
"Giving back to younger students who are interested in science. I have watched students I've mentored over the years (from 7th grade through high school graduation) develop projects that have a direct impact on life and society. It's very refreshing to be exposed to their novel ideas and enthusiasm."

What is your favorite volunteer moment?
"Five years ago, I interviewed several students during the International Intel Science Fair. A year or so later, a book was published spotlighting 10-12 of the students who participated – three of whom I interviewed at the Intel International Science Fair. Each followed a different path to compete in the Fair, and it was incredibly satisfying to see them publicly lauded for their accomplishments."


Peter Harris, Project Leader

How long have you been a volunteer?
"I've been volunteering more regularly since working at UTRC. UTRC makes it easy to get involved in volunteering and provides a number of opportunities throughout the year."

What drew you to volunteering?
"Volunteering is a great way to take the time to both appreciate what you have and give back to the community via actions, and a fun way to get to know your co-workers."

For what organization(s) do you volunteer and why?
"I volunteer for three great organizations: Relay for Life, Hartford Marathon and Special Olympics. Relay provides an opportunity to raise money for cancer research and support -- something that affects most of us through a friend or family member. I support the marathon because I'm a runner, and I enjoy being able to provide water to my fellow runners. And Special Olympics is a great event where athletes who might not otherwise have a chance to compete are given that thrilling opportunity."

What about volunteering do you find most rewarding?
"Volunteering for the Special Olympics is particularly rewarding. By working the running long jump pit every year, aside from the functional role of operating the pits, you get a chance to recognize returning athletes and know who you are cheering on. Having a team of volunteers at the Special Olympics to show interest in, and support for, the athletes is not something that could easily be done with paid staff -- it is a great role for volunteers."

What is your favorite volunteer moment?
"There is no singular moment I can call to mind; I derive great satisfaction from all of my volunteer time. However, this year, for the first time, I will expand my target events to include the East Hartford Middle School Career Day. I'm really looking forward to this, since it helps local kids understand that careers in STEM can be exciting and rewarding."


Irene Harrison, Senior Analyst

How long have you been a volunteer?
"I started volunteering when I joined UTRC, so that makes it 40 years."

What drew you to volunteering?
"A history of community service. I've worked on and off for years with mentally and physically disabled youth, and it was just a continuation of those efforts. I think I worked my first Special Olympics event after I had been at UTRC for about a year. Not long ago, I had all of the T-shirts to prove it."

For what organization(s) do you volunteer and why?
"I volunteer at many of UTRC's United Way events, i.e. Day of Caring, in addition to the Special Olympics."

What about volunteering do you find most rewarding?
"I find working with the people who need support most rewarding and the knowledge that if I wasn't volunteering, some very important needs might not be fulfilled. There are certain things an organization like the Special Olympics or other philanthropic agencies can't do without the assistance of volunteers."

What is your favorite volunteer moment?
"During my very first Special Olympics, I served as an escort for an athlete who was my height and my age. We were both propped up on a shelf to watch the events and then un-propped when it was time for her event. I found myself realizing we weren't different at all. Everything about us on paper looked the same...except she was a Special Olympics athlete and that I was a Special Olympics volunteer."


Yilin Chen, Senior Research Engineer

How long have you been a volunteer?
"I began volunteering eight months ago."

What drew you to volunteering?
"My background is in psychology and I am good at thinking through the design innovation process. I had an opportunity to work with local children last July as part of a UTC-sponsored STEM summer camp for middle school students that allowed me to use my schooling to interact with the kids. The purpose of the workshop was to teach the children to think "outside of the box." So I volunteered to host the workshop session dealing with innovative thinking."

For what organization(s) do you volunteer and why?
"My first experience with volunteering was as a host for the STEM workshop, which was designed to teach students the relationship between science and products and what it is like to be an engineer and researcher. I find this very interesting and very meaningful. I've always wanted to help kids think creatively."

What about volunteering do you find most rewarding?
"The workshop encouraged the kids to participate in open dialogue and share their thoughts and feelings. Such willing discussion is not common among Chinese students. I found they truly enjoyed this process of interacting and their behaviors changed as a result. Knowing I was able to teach them new and worthwhile skills provided me with a great sense of achievement."

What is your favorite volunteer moment?
"Being able to interact directly with the students who participated in the STEM camp. I enjoyed the chance to share my knowledge and experience with them -- and they provided me with a lot of feedback through their reactions and behaviors. So I know they learned from me and were able to view the world a bit differently after completing the workshop. Plus, they opened my eyes about their generation and what is important to them."

Contact: Laura Stevens, (860) 610-1653

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