The Rockwell Automation Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative for senior schoolchildren made its South African debut in May this year. This STEM initiative aims for school-goers to “make the connection” and discover how knowledge from STEM subjects contributes to manufacturing products they frequently use.
The intention of this initiative, held at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg’s East Rand, was to give STEM learners’ insight into real world technology and engineering applications. It is also a platform for them to discover how the subjects they choose at school will enable them to potentially select a career in either of these disciplines.
Sixty students from two schools, St Peter’s College in Johannesburg and HoĆ«rskool Eldoraigne in Centurion, were exposed to Rockwell Automation technologies and their applicability in various relatable industries. It was highlighted to the young delegates that everyday technologies used by most people (including students), such as smart phones and tablets, are used in industry similarly to the way we use them on a daily basis. “We also want learners to get a taste of the kind of work and roles which this industry offers, and what it would be like to work for a company like Rockwell Automation,” explains Kerry Meikle-Braes, HR manager: sub-Saharan Africa at Rockwell Automation.
“We hope to create awareness and excitement of both the industry and our company among school-goers,” she says. “We also hope to convince some of them to enter into tertiary studies that may one day result in them working for Rockwell Automation, or in the technology space in which we operate.”
The focus on STEM programmes is a Rockwell Automation global initiative for broad-based support to address the critical need to fill STEM jobs that drive innovation. Since 2006, the multinational has provided more than US$15-million to address this need.
“Exposing students to a detailed insight of the practical application of STEM subjects to technology and engineering, and at an age young enough to influence their career choice, is a primary focus of this programme,” Meikle-Braes concludes. “This was Rockwell Automation Sub-Saharan Africa’s first STEM initiative and more will follow as we drive our global focus on STEM in the sub-continent. Importantly, in South Africa, we will also direct our efforts towards initiatives that encourage women in STEM jobs”.