Cabins, Campfires and STEM

Aug 7, 2018 9:00 AM ET
Blog

The warm summer months bring back fond memories. For some of us, the fondest include leaving our families for weeks at a time to head off to summer camp.

Recently, Will Dickson, iHub University Innovation champion and MIT lead talent scout for General Motors, had the opportunity to do just that at the National Youth Science Camp (NYSC) in Bartow, West Virginia.

Each year this STEM-focused camp invites more than 120 incoming college freshman “delegates” from across the country and around the world to explore the vast career opportunities a STEM degree can provide. At the same time, students are given a quintessential American summer camp experience complete with 7 a.m. wake-up calls, family-style meals, outdoor activities and only handwritten letters or a landline telephone to call their parents.

The students are hand-picked, two from each U.S. state, by their governor’s office and a few are chosen from other countries. Throughout the four-week experience, the students hear from experts from Silicon Valley to the East Coast and across various disciplines, from physicists to neurosurgeons to engineers of every kind. The one thing that brings the lecturers and students together is a passion for science, technology, engineering or math.

Here’s what Will had to say about his experience:

“Every delegate at this camp was a ‘front row’ student – these were some of the best and brightest young minds I’ve come across. Their passion for learning, combined with their aptitude and diversity, created an incredibly unique environment for learning and having fun.

My lecture focused largely on what it means to make your mark in society. I wanted them not only to walk away from the discussion with a healthy knowledge of what types of things General Motors has been working on, but to also learn why we’re doing this work. I contextualized how everyone from me to our CEO Mary Barra contributes to our mission and impacts the world. My goal was to inspire them to find a career path that keeps them passionate and proud of their work, all while showcasing the vast career opportunities at General Motors.”

To showcase some of the latest technology out of General Motors, Will brought with him a 2018 Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid.

“I heard a few of the students say ‘Wow! I had no idea General Motors was working on technology like this,’ which made me feel great about sharing some stories about the hard work and cool technology that goes into our products,” Will added.

As the U.S. currently lags other nations in its pipeline of STEM talent, General Motors is helping to reverse this trend. Like Will’s day job working with MIT to solve industry issues and create interest in the auto industry, investing in exploratory opportunities for students, such as NYSC, is just one of the many ways General Motors is working to develop and inspire future STEM talent.

Key partners such as Code.org, Black Girls Code, Institute of Play and Digital Promise also are important to our efforts.  Through these partnerships, we remove barriers and encourage more young people to pursue careers in technology and engineering. Our investment in STEM is also a key component in realizing our vision for a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.

At General Motors, a STEM hire was made every 26 minutes in 2016. As we work to transform the future of mobility, we will continue to inspire the next generation of professionals to pursue STEM careers through initiatives and mentorship. As seen with Will, we are fortunate that our employees are equally passionate in supporting our efforts to advance more than 100 STEM education initiatives around the world annually.

To learn more about how we are developing and inspiring future STEM talent, view our latest 2017 Sustainability Report.