Three decades after launching his custom engineering, expert witness, forensics, and failure analysis company, Materials Analysis, Inc., Ray Claxton sold the business to follow a passion he realized would enrich his retirement years. While continuing his engineering consulting work, he now mentors a non-profit organization, SciTech Discovery, that inspires children to pursue education and eventual careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Through Dallas Social Venture Partners, whose slogan is "Investing in a Better World for Children," Ray's expertise shapes business models and helps promote promising young non-profits like SciTech Discovery. His reward comes from watching great ideas flourish for such programs, and through ultimately helping Dallas-area children benefit from a fun way of learning science in a stimulating atmosphere. The program, started by the Junior League of Plano, Texas, has been so well-received that the city of Frisco, a suburb of Dallas, houses SciTech Discover rent-free.
You can't help but share Ray's enthusiasm for SciTech when you learn that there are thousands of kids who participate in expertly-conducted daily programs, camps, labs, and parties that ignite their imaginations and teach them that learning is fun. "Only about fifteen percent of high school graduates qualify to apply to engineering college," Ray says. "We're trying to address this issue with children under the age of fourteen, before they develop a fear of math and science." At SciTech, kids "cannot not have fun learning." In the tinkering studio they work with an engineer to take apart household appliances, for example. There are school assemblies where Molecule Man entertains even the youngest with magical performances aided by liquid nitrogen. Ray would like to see this successful model replicated in other areas of the U.S., where it can reach more children in the future. He'd also like to encourage others to volunteer time, equipment, or sponsorships if possible.
Ray launched Materials Analysis in his garage in 1978, and it soon expanded into a sizeable downtown Dallas operation. They have now become the Dallas Office of Engineering Systems Inc. He bought his first electron microscope, a JEOL T-300, and, after many years, obtained a JEOL JSM-6460 for his company. In all that time, Ray says, he has worked with the same JEOL service and sales engineers. “In 30 years we’ve never had a bad experience with JEOL. I don’t know any other supplier that equals their performance.” We wish Ray and SciTech Discovery well in their efforts.
* SciTech Discover is a registered 501c3 organization. If you would like to make a contribution of any kind, including a Dewar flask, contact Dr. Ray Claxton at firstname.lastname@example.org.