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  • Entrepreneurial Student Wins Top Engineering Award


    At age 13, Ryan Clark launched a successful web-based startup -- the first of more than a dozen such companies he would eventually develop with his twin brother, Ashton. The synergy of Clark’s entrepreneurial spirit and his education in ILLINOIS’ inter-disciplinary Hoeft Technology & Management Program led to his recent winning of the 2009 Student Leadership Award from the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Global Competitiveness Conference.

    Clark and fellow award winners will be recognized at the 23rd anniversary of the BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference Feb. 19-22, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The event will be hosted by Lockheed Martin Corporation, US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine, and the Council of Engineering Deans.

    Currently a junior at ILLINOIS, Clark’s ambition drives him to do more than most. He has accomplished more entrepreneurial feats than many people twice his age. According to Morris Biggers, a Senior Project Manager at Electronic Data Systems who served as a judge for the BEYA STEM awards, it was Clark’s entrepreneurial spirit and grasp of technology that made him stand out among hundreds of entrants. “Ryan impressed me because he was able to master web technology as a teenager, and continues to leverage it to achieve success,” he said.

    Andrew Singer, director of the Technology Entrepreneur Center at ILLINOIS where Clark currently serves as a student webmaster, was delighted to hear that Clark was selected for the BEYA honor. “He is a terrific example of the strong interdisciplinary spirit among our students at the University of Illinois,” said Singer. “His commitments to both business and engineering and his many academic and extracurricular activities in these areas truly define his character and demonstrate what an outstanding young man he is.”

    In addition to his entrepreneurial activities, Clark is a very serious student, earning an A-average at a highly-ranked research university and its very highly ranked accountancy program. Last year, he was selected from among hundreds of student applicants from the Colleges of Business and Engineering to join the T&M Program at Illinois. The T&M Program at the ILLINOIS bridges the gap between traditional engineering and business education by offering a unique curriculum to a select group of highly qualified undergraduates drawn from engineering and business departments. Working closely with its corporate partners, the T&M Program grooms the best and the brightest to be tomorrow's leaders in technology and business. In addition to their major course of study students also receive a minor in Technology & Management.

    “Ryan is a great fit for the program” said John Clarke, Assistant Dean in the College of Business and Executive Director of the Hoeft Program. “Many of our undergrad students have interests and capabilities in business and engineering, it is great to see a student who is doing both gain such recognition.”

    Along with his coursework, Clark is active in student leadership activities including the Minority Leadership Group (MLG), the National Black MBA Association, the College's LEAD program for minorities, and the 100 Strong Association. Clark was also awarded the MLG Scholarship for academic, professional and community involvement, which places him in the top two percent of MLG members.

    Clark is keenly aware of the enormity of winning the BEYA STEM Student Leadership Award. After learning of the award he commented, “It is a distinct honor and I am extremely excited to be a recipient of the Black Engineer of the Year Award for Student Leadership. This serves as more than just an award for me but the opportunity to inspire others to reach for their dreams and aspirations.”

    About the BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference and BEYA STEM Awards
    Heading this year’s list of accomplished engineering and technology inductees is the 2009 Black Engineer of the Year Dr. Wanda Austin, President and CEO of the Aerospace Corporation.

    Other award categories recognize individuals who have achieved exceptional career gains in government and industry, in lifetime achievement, and in pioneering feats. BEYA alumni and the most promising students will also be recognized during the four-day Global Competitiveness Conference held February 19-22, 2009.

    Career Communications Group, Inc. publishes US Black Engineer & IT magazine and produces the annual BEYA STEM Global Competitive Conference held during Black History Month. For more information about this year’s awardees, sponsors, and registration details, visit

    About the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has long ranked among the nation’s most distinguished teaching and research institutions. Its diverse, world-class programs reflect the mission of a comprehensive, land-grant university. The largest public university in Illinois, the ILLINOIS campus was chartered by the state in 1867 as the Illinois Industrial University and opened its doors to students in 1868.

    Additional Information

    Contact: Rhiannon Clifton, assistant director, Technology Entrepreneur Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 217/244-4035,

    Ryan Clark, 630/728-9473,

    Diane T. Jones, Career Communications Group, 410/244-7101 ext. 133,

    UIUC College of Business Department of Accountancy