February 21, 2020

Garver touts STEM benefits in KC Business Journal

In addition to providing communities across the country with innovative infrastructure solutions, Garver knows the importance of inspiring the next generation of engineers. That’s why GarverGives, the firm’s corporate-giving arm, focuses on events that aid STEM education initiatives.

An article written by Garver Senior Transportation Project Manager Jennifer Russell was published in the Kansas City Business Journal that touched on the critical role engineering firms play in creating that connection. Published during EWeek 2020, Russell touched on the need to communicate details of the job, connect with students, and provide encouragement along the way.

Titled “Building a Pipeline: Five tools to boost a STEM-focused workforce” the article can be read in its entirety below. 

One of the biggest challenges facing today’s workforce is a shortage of talent needed to fill high-demand careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. 

As engineers and professionals representing companies in STEM-related fields, we play a critical role in cultivating the next generation of engineers. In order to do so, we need to build a pipeline that leads students our way.

Here are five simple ways to help make that happen:

Talk about what you do.

Sometimes, just bringing awareness to a career path is the spark that can change someone’s life. Many young people don’t think about a potential career in engineering because they don’t know it exists. So, speak up. Talk about your career. Talk about your company, then follow up with resources that ignite that spark.  

Start early. Stay connected.

The STEM talent shortfall starts long before students enter college. Companies should begin engaging with students at the elementary and middle school levels to foster a love for STEM. Kansas City-area  businesses can easily do this by tapping into KC STEM Alliance, which serves as a regional matchmaker for schools and professionals.  

Cultivate competition.

Students love competitions! They’re a big deal. Find opportunities to volunteer as a judge for competitions hosted by Project Lead the Way, FIRST Robotics, or even a school science fair. Having professionals review their work provides legitimacy and encouragement for students. 

My firm recently organized the Garver Chain Reaction Challenge to celebrate our 100th year in business.  After donating STEM kits and funds to 100 schools, we challenged students to build Rube Goldberg-style chain reaction machines out of everyday items for the competition. We even created opportunities for students to build contraptions alongside our engineers. Through this interactive activity, students not only exercised critical thinking skills, but also gained a better understanding of the engineering design process. And we all had had a lot of fun along the way.

Stamp out the STEM stigma.

Despite major strides in education and awareness, STEM is still a four-letter word to many female students. Women’s organizations that carry small acronyms like WiSTEM, SWE, and WTS offer big solutions to encourage female students and bridge the gender gap in STEM careers. The Kansas City Chapter of WTS recently held its annual Fall in Love with Transportation event, offering girls mentoring opportunities with women in transportation professions. So how can you help? Get involved and support these organizations. 

Lift up the STEM Pioneers.

Educators work on the front lines with students every day to tackle STEM challenges. They not only need support through school-business partnerships, but they also need to be recognized for their contributions and excellence. Every year, organizations like the National Society of Professional Engineers recognize teachers and schools for stellar STEM-related efforts by shining a light on the outstanding STEM-based teaching already underway.

In order to meet the needs of our industry and our nation, we all must do our part to make that STEM-ready workforce pipeline a reality.

To learn more about Garver’s efforts to promote STEM learning, visit our GarverGives page.