Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president of engineering, modifications & maintenance for Boeing Global Service, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Cal Poly Pomona during the College of Engineering’s commencement on May 18.
Robinson-Berry (’82, engineering technology) was honored for her professional accomplishments, outstanding work in the community, as well as her philanthropy and advocacy to promote a diverse field of engineering professionals.
“I’m proud of the strides that women and people of color are making in the engineering community because it’s really about how we bring our ideas and integrate them into our culture and our community. The diversity of thought from different cultures bring the innovation that we need to take us to the next level,” she said during the ceremony.
“There is no better time to be in engineering. … Your generation will create its moment that will bring the world together, and it’s likely you’ll go back to the moon and you’ll definitely go to Mars — powered by a Boeing rocket. Just saying. And you can share that with Elon Musk. And once again this will be powered by engineers.”
At Boeing Global Services, Robinson-Berry is responsible for fleet engineering services; modifications to aircraft; logistics products and support; aircraft on ground services; forward base deployment with operators around the world; and maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities in San Antonio, Jacksonville and Shanghai. She also serves on the Enterprise Engineering Functional Leadership Team.
Throughout her long career with Boeing, during which she became the first African-American woman program manager of a multi-billion-dollar commercial airplane program, Robinson-Berry displayed exceptional technical and personal skills.
She has been lauded for her accomplishments in science, technology and mathematics, and her honors range from her induction into Cal Poly Pomona’s Engineering Hall of Fame to inclusion in Black Enterprise magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Corporate America” feature.
The third of nine children, she helped raise her younger siblings after her father, a police officer, was shot in the line of duty. She lost a brother to violence and a sister to lupus. She and her husband then raised her sister’s three children and three of her own. These experiences and others infused in her the perseverance, faith and confidence that nurtured her remarkable career trajectory — yet Robinson-Berry does not define her achievements by title or honors.
“Success, for me,” she said, “is not driven by your personal accomplishments, but what you have left on this planet to make life for all human beings better and how you’ve been able to influence and shape the well-being of others.”
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