By some estimates, 80 percent of future jobs are in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, yet only 16 percent of graduates in 2018 will graduate with STEM degrees.
The stats underline the importance of supporting STEM education programs designed to increase interest in these important fields. Employees from our North American Tooling Center in Flint, Michigan, did just that when they partnered with Kettering University’s Lives Improve through Engineering (LITE) program last month.
With guidance from GM mentors – John Bradburn, our manager of global waste reduction and resident MacGyver, among them – 31 female high school students built wood duck nesting boxes made from scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers. In the process, they discovered a whole new subset of engineering open to them – environmental engineering.
“I wish I could share this with every girl across the United States,” said Erika Beursken, a Kettering student who helped lead the LITE program and nesting box activity. “This shows a career in STEM is possible and rewarding.”
The completed nesting boxes will be placed along a five-mile stretch of the Flint River in Michigan. They’ll join the more than 520 Volt nesting boxes on public and private lands throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The nesting box activity marked the end of Kettering University’s LITE program. The two-week summer program immerses girls who have completed their junior year of high school in engineering, providing hands-on experience in a variety of STEM fields traditionally dominated by men.
At GM we have a long history of supporting hands-on STEM education through unique programs, such as:
- GM GREEN (Global Rivers Environmental Education Network), now in its 25th year, encourages community engagement by helping youth better understand their impact on local watersheds. We match approximately 8,500 students each year with GM mentors to retrieve water samples, test and analyze them, identify an issue of concern, and develop a community project addressing it.
- EcoCAR 2, a three-year engineering competition for college students at 15 universities to reduce a vehicle’s environmental impact. For more than 15 years, we have provided funding, mentors and prototype vehicles for these advanced vehicle competitions. We will continue our support with the start of EcoCAR 3 this fall.
- U.S. FIRST Robotics, an international high school robotics competition that gives students real-world engineering experience. We sponsor and mentor more than 650 teams totaling nearly 10,000 K-12 students annually.