Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is a critical priority for Roper Corporation, the wholly-owned subsidiary of GE Appliances, a Haier company, located in LaFayette, Ga.
"We know the importance of educating our future workforce in these areas," said Don Gregg, director of engineering at Roper Corporation. "Our future success depends on a supply of highly trained, highly capable technical talent."
Developing technical talent is something that Gregg, along with plant manager Lois Crandell and other Roper business leaders take seriously.
"We strongly believe advancing STEM education requires collaboration among industry, educators and families," Crandell said. "As a community leader with a workforce that includes 70 engineers and technicians, Roper Corporation is committed to developing programs that educate and inspire tomorrow's engineers and other technical resources."
To help address these challenges and strengthen the workforce pipeline, Roper provides STEM outreach activities for students from elementary through high school.
Factory Engineering Labs Field Trips
The Roper Corporation STEM outreach program partners with local schools to offer K-12 students and teachers a real-world experience through access to Roper's Product Design Engineering Department.
This includes a tour of lab areas and "hands-on" STEM activities with each team being mentored by one of Roper's engineers. The plant typically hosts approximately 35 students twice monthly during the fall and spring semesters. Since 2014, Roper Corporation has hosted 1,700 students and teachers.
In addition, the Roper team is out working in local schools as mentors for STEM projects (Lego Robot leagues, classroom projects, etc.), as well as participating in local school career days, and summer STEM camp.
Introduce a Girl to Engineering
To further build the pipeline of women in engineering, each year the Roper team holds a special "Introduce a Girl to Engineering" event during National Engineer's Week where employees bring girls (daughters, granddaughters, nieces, etc.) to the factory for a half-day immersion.
They participate in "hands-on" STEM activities with each team mentored by one of Roper's female engineers. The girls also tour the labs, which include additional hands-on activities in the plant's thermal infrared and electronics areas.
Catoosa County STEM Summer Camp
Communities in Schools, a United Way Agency, holds a summer STEM camp called Camp STEMulate for middle school kids. Don Gregg, director of engineering for Roper Corporation, has been a member of the planning board for this activity since its inception in 2017.
Roper sponsors an electronics class during this weeklong camp where students 3-D print and build and solder an electronic project kit.
In addition, Roper sponsors an activity where campers build and compete in their own hovercraft. For both activities, Roper supplies the equipment, plans, kits and instructors.