Augusta, Georgia, United States: Club Car, an Ingersoll-Rand brand, known globally for manufacturing small-wheel, zero emissions golf, consumer and utility vehicles, is delivering an altogether new vehicle, one intended to inspire and help educate the next generation workforce.
For five years, Club Car has been collaborating with the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and EdVenture, a not-for-profit educational institution, to host ‘STEM Day at Club Car’.
Club Car hosted 47 local middle school students from AR Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School and Guinyard Butler Middle School at its Augusta plant.
Students learned about manufacturing techniques including how to develop planes and parachutes’ efficient flight paths through a wind tunnel. They also participated in team-focused educational activities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
“It’s inspiring for students to walk the floor of our manufacturing plant while it’s in operation and to attend educational sessions to envision what a future career path can entail,” said Tyrone Ellis, Vice President, Integrated Supply Chain, Club Car, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“Our employees have embraced mentoring and are committed to the students’ future. Even though our intention is to give back, we are getting so much from being a part of the programme.”
The Club Car’s STEM event is part of a broader vision of the GaDOE and its Career, Technical Agricultural Education (CTAE).
Educators like Dr John Pritchett participate and collaborate with teachers and STEM and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) co-ordinators as well as local and national workforce partners to better understand employment gaps and needs while also providing students with new opportunities for their future employment plans.
“The students believe: ‘Yes, I can be an engineer or a technician or an industrial maintenance technician and make a good wage’,” said Pritchett, Research, Technology, Innovation Specialist with the Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) for GaDOE.
“They realise they can achieve these skill sets out of high school or in post-secondary training whether it’s a two-year or four-year setting. Club Car has been a great partner and allowed us to listen to their needs as an employer, and it’s helped our educators focus on how we can help bridge that gap to better prepare students for their industry and other industries’ needs.”
Since Club Car began hosting the programme, its employees who serve as mentors or participants in STEM Day are rewarded from the experience as much as the students are.
“That common phrase: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up’ has changed,” added Pritchett. “Today, instead we’re asking students: ‘What problems do you want to solve in the future?’ We’re changing the dialogue, and we’re changing the focus by empowering students with new tools and giving them a reason for persistent motivation. They are starting to realise they can be a real contributor and there’s a place for them in the STEM/STEAM world and the STEM/STEAM economy.”
The National Science and Math Initiative claims STEM job creation over the next 10 years will outpace non-STEM jobs significantly, growing 17 per cent, as compared to 9.8 per cent for non-STEM positions.
Jobs in computer systems design and related services – a field dependent on high-level maths and problem-solving skills – are projected to grow 45 per cent between 2008 and 2018.
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