#PBW15: 9 Companies Making A Difference In STEM Education

October 29, 2015

To celebrate Pro Bono Week 2015, we rounded up a few of the stellar companies making a difference through skilled volunteering and pro bono work related to STEM education. One of the best ways to both engage employees in skills based volunteerism and connect with students around STEM is providing work-based learning opportunities, including classroom visits and company tours.

These experiences can spark awareness of and interest in STEM careers; give students first-hand exposure to STEM companies, workplaces and professionals; connect school learning to real-world STEM applications; and build the STEM skills that employers want. Additionally, providing opportunities for employees with skilled volunteering opportunities that allow them to engage meaningfully with students helps employers attract and retain the best talent.

Here are nine CTEq members that are making a difference through skills-based volunteering and work-based learning programs in STEM:

Chevron is a strategic partner for Techbridge Girls, a program that inspires girls to discover a passion for technology, science, and engineering. In addition to working with Techbridge to create and prepare hands-on STEM activities for program participants, Chevron employees have hosted 14 field trips for students to their California offices and provided more than 100 role models to inspire these girls in STEM.

Dow Chemical
Last year, Dow created the Dow STEM Ambassadors program, a group of 1,300 volunteers from offices around the world. The program connects Dow employees to students and teachers interested in STEM and gives them inspiring opportunities to share their knowledge and skills. The company is even partnering with the Smithsonian Science Education Center to develop instructional guides for STEM teachers.

IBM employees participate in a number of STEM mentoring activities – they were recently recognized by US2020 for their STEM mentorship efforts in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where a team of IBM employees volunteered to mentor sixth grade students in an engineering challenge to design a shipping container. Additionally, IBM employees have volunteered to mentor and judge inventions at their own Chicago Student Invention Convention every year since 2012.

Qualcomm employees get hands-on with STEM learning at Qcamp, a two-week summer camp for girls in California. The employees work with the campers on engineering projects, robo-crafts, and more. The students also get a chance to visit Qualcomm’s labs and offices – this year, the campers visited their Pacific Center Campus to learn about energy efficiency and checked out the Robotics Lab to learn more about technology and meet a Battlebots competition winner. 

Space Systems Loral
SSL also hosts students in their headquarters – employees teach them about the engineering and manufacturing processes that go into creating satellites. Employees participate in hands-on activities with students like building satellites out of recycled material or launching paper rockets. They also talk with students about how satellites and technology relate to their daily lives to help them see possibilities in future STEM careers.

To inspire students STEM, Symantec hosts tours in their state-of-the-art computer labs and data centers. Students have a chance to talk with employees to ask them about their jobs, giving them a great opportunity to learn about potential STEM careers. Additionally, Symantec partners with other STEM-focused organizations to further expand their education for students and bring more students on official tours. These company tours give Symantec employees a fun and meaningful way to volunteer and connect with students.

Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments employees participate in a variety of STEM volunteering projects across the country – for example, their engineers sponsor and coach students in Arizona for the FIRST Lego League competition. TI employees also partnered with engineers in Maine and volunteered as “engineering ambassadors” in local schools to teach students how engineers can make a difference in the world.

United Launch Alliance
United Launch Alliance also participates in a variety of STEM initiatives to engage and inspire students. They partner with nonprofits and school districts to bring fun and educational experiences with rocket science to students. One of these is their Student Rocket Launch program that they host with the Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation. This event simulates a real-life rocket launch campaign and inspires students to pursue careers in STEM.

Xerox employees have been providing hands-on learning experiences in classrooms for almost 50 years – today, they’re focused on building a diverse workforce for engineering. Their Xerox Science Consultant program emphasizes bridging gaps in STEM opportunities between affluent and urban schools. Visiting classrooms allows employees to work directly with students and get them excited about potential career paths in STEM. Xerox Science consultants also work with teachers to map out hands-on STEM activities for their students.

Bravo to these companies for making a difference through skills-based volunteering and work-based learning in STEM! These types of programs and initiatives are giving kids the kind of meaningful, real-world exposure to STEM jobs that can last a lifetime. Tell us how your company participates in pro bono on Twitter with the hashtag #PBW15! To learn more about work-based learning, and what your company can do, check out our employer’s guide.

Tags: Employee Engagement