The Spokane region is home to a business community that provides strong support of education attainment in our community. From sponsoring events and providing resources to both employees and students throughout the area, businesses play an integral role in growing our region’s economy through an educated workforce. The Caterpillar Spokane Distribution Center recently hosted an event specifically geared to encouraging our region’s girls to pursue a career in STEM. Read more about this exciting event below.
By Monica Patterson, HR Supervisor at Caterpillar Spokane Distribution Center
On Oct. 11, 47 girls from area middle schools participated in the first annual Introduce a Girl to STEM Day, hosted by the Caterpillar Spokane Distribution Center. This event introduced students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) applications in the workforce.
Girls were split into three groups and participated in three different activities, each activity focusing on unique aspects of STEM. The first activity was a tour of the facility and CAT equipment, provided by our local dealer, Western States. The next activity was a lean manufacturing game that taught the girls some key principles utilized by Caterpillar to remove waste in processes and improve efficiency.
One of the final activities was a simulation game called Digging for Knowledge. The girls acted as engineers responsible for excavating a garage for a new mall. Their task included determining how much equipment to purchase, so they could complete the excavation in four weeks. Each group had to use geology, math and technology in order to complete the project with the lowest cost per ton of dirt and win the game.
The day ended with a keynote address from Becky Sommers, a mathematics professor at EWU, who discussed STEM career possibilities with the girls. Our local Women’s Initiative Network employee resource group sponsored the event.
The Caterpillar Spokane Distribution Center plans to host this day next year with 200 girls, which is important to our region for several reasons. Caterpillar has a commitment to building the best team and we’ve realized that the best team is a diverse team. What we have found through research and experience is that companies that are more diverse have higher financial returns than their less diverse counterparts.
Companies that encourage women to become leaders succeeded in the workplace through gains in productivity, innovation and engagement. However, we need to plant the seeds for success, most specifically in the STEM field. We know that the investment in girls will pay off, as girls who are exposed to and encouraged to participate in STEM activities careers are more likely to pursue careers in the STEM field, which one of the fastest growing industries worldwide.
Currently, there are not enough qualified candidates to fill future projected positions—we can change this by inspiring young people to participate in STEM activities and fostering confidence and leadership through these activities.