“Physics defines energy as the capacity to do work. STEM education, by its nature, promotes critical thinking and fosters an environment conducive to new ideas, invention, and discovery. This leads to increasing numbers of STEM professionals, diversity of thought, and, ultimately, a nation’s capacity to do work by energizing a commercial marketplace with innovation that increases competitiveness within all markets. We made a commitment to support STEMconnector and the Million Women Mentors (MWM) program because appreciation of this energy, when ignited early in formative years, empowers us all to attain greater competition resulting in more innovation.”
We believe early promotion of STEM concepts is critical to curbing current downward STEM proficiency trends. High school may be too late to have the first introduction to STEM. At Alpha Corporation, we’ve established a formal mentoring program that sees our employees visit middle and elementary school classrooms to present an introduction to engineering concepts. Both male and female presenters demonstrate equal gender participation in the field and provide role models for these students. Our structural engineering department has made several of these presentations with hands-on presentations throughout the National Capital region for at least two years. This level of outreach has enabled us to work directly with more than 100 students since launch.
To date, these presentations have been timed to coincide with “career day” festivities. Our program commits our own staff as mentor resources to a full day of activities designed to engage students and facilitate a better understanding of STEM careers and their infinite possibilities. We also provide an education timeline required to become an engineer and necessary training. While presentations are mainly focused on structural engineering and typical projects, there is greater emphasis on the importance of team work and having all members come together to produce a final product. Students also gain a perspective on embracing failure and seeing it as a catalyst to create something better rather than a wall which hinders progress. We accomplish this by designing a group activity that, by nature of physics and gravity, will lend towards a minor structural collapse of each team’s work product inspiring them to think-tank their way through to a better solution—one of the key hallmarks for any STEM professional. Overall, we strive to spark a student’s desire to pursue a STEM career and build an appreciation for learning.
Our investment to sponsor and support MWM has further anchored our commitment to expand these mentoring presentations to other regions in which we have established operations, including the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. Throughout this first year with MWM, we have standardized our presentation mentoring program so employees located within these regions are enabled to champion similar success in additional schools.
Presently, Alpha Corporation is underway in developing a more robust corporate volunteer policy to adopt in 2015. This enhanced policy will enable all employees the means to schedule flexibility for which they can choose a preferred level of volunteerism through four key avenues—company sponsored programs, K-12 mentoring presentations, actual dedicated STEM mentoring of individual students for a minimum of 20 hours each, and other forms of mentoring/nonprofit support.