Pulse news magazine

Volume 23, September 2018

STEM initiatives help students branch into future careers

BAE Systems is investing in the future workforce by supporting organizations, schools, colleges, and universities that prepare students for STEM and manufacturing careers.
As far as we’re concerned, school is never out for summer. The technology industry is facing a deficit when it comes to the future talent pool in careers focusing on the science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM) disciplines.

Electronic Systems (ES) has begun to focus community investment initiatives on filling the future talent pipeline. ES supports strategic programs through grants, sponsorships, scholarships, and employee volunteer opportunities.

Answering the age-old question, “When will I ever use this?”

BAE Systems is investing in the future workforce by supporting organizations, schools, colleges, and universities that prepare students for STEM and manufacturing careers. This past summer, we partnered and created several STEM summer camps to encourage high school students to engage in STEM career paths. We focused on bringing relationships and relevance to the summer’s programs. Through the curriculum, students can envision a purpose and future in STEM by working alongside engineers currently in the industry.

At Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), some of the finest young minds in the country, entering their senior year in high school, gathered to participate in Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI), sponsored by BAE Systems. MIT partners with high schools across the country to recruit future engineers for a four-week STEM program consisting of participation in hands-on projects, online courses, and lectures. The Institute kicked off and ended with members of the BAE Systems team, including Jerry Wohletz, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems’ FAST Labs, sharing their career journeys with the students. 25 students who studied unmanned aerial systems technology received scholarships from BAE Systems to attend BWSI, and their experiences helped them develop critical skills that are in high demand in today’s commercial and defense companies.

Meanwhile in New Hampshire, we partnered with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) to strengthen the STEM pipeline by providing scholarships to 14 students, all entering the 11th or 12th grade from the Nashua and Manchester areas, to attend Tech Camp at UNH. In addition to the grant, seven of the company’s engineers were on hand to instruct and mentor the BAE Systems Summer STEM Scholars through successful completion of building and programming an autonomous remote-control car. The students learned problem-solving skills and how science and math are applied to real life engineering projects. They also learned important information about the college process and careers for those studying in STEM fields. In addition, the scholars toured the ES’ South Nashua facility.

At our Endicott, New York facility, 30 students, ages 12 to 15, were led by our employees through several engineering based projects and activities with the goal of piquing their interest in engineering. This year's camp theme focused on the "Internet of Things.” Students presented their final projects, which ranged from a smart doorbell, which emails a photo of the ringer, to a system that waters a plant based on the number of website votes received.

At BAE Systems, we know that the passion for science and technology starts early, which is why we make programs available that are dedicated to providing students who may not otherwise have the financial resources to be introduced to STEM subjects with the opportunity to gain hands-on experiences through intensive programs.

"Thank you for providing me and my fellow peers with an amazing learning experience that will stick with us for a lifetime,” said Austin Bourque, UNH Tech Leader student. “I very much appreciate the amount of time and effort everyone from BAE Systems put into making this a successful experience for us."

Ensuring a diverse future

Diversity at all stages of the STEM pipeline is critical for increasing the number of people participating in innovative problem-solving. We need future leaders who will push the limits of what is possible so that we can continue to lead the pace of innovation in the security, aerospace, and defense markets. We particularly look for diversity in hiring, because employees from a variety of backgrounds inspire their teammates and colleagues, lending different perspectives to everyday challenges. We run programs and encourage organizations that support women in technology and first generation college students.

BAE Systems in Manassas, Virginia welcomed 35 high school juniors, who will be first generation college students, to come to the facility for a week-long, hands-on interaction with our employees. The students heard from guest speakers, watched a liquid nitrogen demonstration, completed a bridge building challenge, saw product area demonstrations, and took a robotics class. In order to learn more about their potential educational and career paths, students participated in “career speed dating,” with our engineers and scientists.

Our Women in Technology (WIT) program hosts high school women for six weeks while they learn about emerging technologies through hands-on activities, and complete an internship upon graduation from the program. It is a collaborative partnership between BAE Systems and local high schools in Greenlawn, New York, Manassas, Virginia, and throughout New Hampshire. The program enables young women to work with their peers and explore a variety of technical careers in a team environment with support and guidance from our employees. The program offers mentorship, support, and learning opportunities for those interested in pursuing STEM careers. It provides practical experience, guidance to build strong decision-making skills, and exploration of nontraditional roles for women in technical careers.

Preparing students for success

BAE Systems has a legacy of providing scholarships to high school and college students in the areas in which we live and work who are pursuing STEM-related majors. It’s not enough to just introduce students to STEM, we must ensure they feel supported as they progress in the field.

In 2018, BAE Systems sites across the sector gave dozens of scholarships to high school seniors and college students pursuing careers in STEM fields. In addition to the financial support, we strive to have an employee present the scholarships to the student in person, fostering a connection with BAE Systems. It is our hope that these scholarships are just the beginning of a long relationship with the company, leading to possible internships and rewarding careers.

“We are committed to engaging young people’s interest in STEM education because we’re always thinking about the next generation of engineers and scientists,” said Sue Peckham, director of Hardware Engineering at BAE Systems. “It’s important to encourage and enable students with a pathway to the technical science disciplines, because our talent pipeline is dependent upon an abundance of students engaged in studying technology and engineering.”

2019 Outlook

The company’s attention to human capital has yielded results already, with a mid-year report showing that we have achieved more than 90 percent of our 2018 goal for external hires as of June 30, filling more than 1,600 requisitions so far this year.

Community Investment programs will continue to focus on activities that help supply the talent pipeline in different markets where BAE Systems operates and is looking to grow. We are proud to play a part in inspiring the next generation of dreamers, planners, and doers. Their aspirations for the future will one day contribute to BAE System’s innovation in aerospace, defence, and security.

Do you have an idea about how we can get more involved in school outreach in the areas where our employees live and work? Contact es.community@baesystems.com.

Liz Harrington, Community Investment, Burlington, Massachusetts and
Carrie Connors, Community Investment, Endicott, New York