Growth strategies

Bendix aims to inspire next generation of STEM professionals

BendixBendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake (Bendix) recently participated as a sponsor and exhibitor at the Women in Science Day at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH), held Feb. 9.

The event celebrates the contributions women from around the world have made to science with panels, hands-on activities and special programs for 1,500 girls and boys.

As an exhibitor, Bendix showed how science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) impact our daily lives. Eight women who work in STEM at Bendix helped to educate students through activities on sustainability, coding and circuits.

From providing firsthand exposure of engineering labs to sponsoring school maker spaces, Bendix is committed to inspiring future STEM professionals by helping to unleash their creativity and innovative spirit, the company says.

At the CMNH Women in Science Day event, Maria Gutierrez, Bendix director of corporate responsibility and sustainability, introduced the Science Graduate Student Panel. Gutierrez, trained as a chemical and environmental engineer, aims to inspire young girls to pursue science and disband the myth that women in science don’t fit society’s expectations.

“According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce. I want to encourage young girls to be all they can be,” Gutierrez says. “At Bendix, we are creating an encouraging environment for women to thrive in — as we portray with all these successful women in our business. Diversity in our workforce brings a variety of different ideas and ways of thinking that will only result in creative innovation.”

Gutierrez is one of many women helping to shape Bendix’s future who have a technical background, work in a technical role or both. A small sampling of others includes: Barb Albrecht, whose training in mechanical engineering has served her well as program manager for customer retrofit; Rebecca Carter, an industrial engineer who works as product manager for specialty valves; Cheryl Greenly, a trained electrical engineer who earned a law degree and serves as one of Bendix’s intellectual property attorneys; and Nicole Oreskovic, who brings her mechanical engineering training to bear in her role as product line director for air disc brakes, the company says.

Through on-site programming, sponsorships and employee volunteerism, Bendix aims to raise awareness of the value of a STEM education and careers.

Gutierrez notes that, in addition to helping prepare students for the changing world of work, companies like Bendix also have a personal stake in building the numbers of STEM-educated young people: “With Bendix being a technology- and innovation-driven company, we want to ensure we will be able to fill the critical skilled roles in STEM that we have or will have by promoting STEM in the younger generations of students.”

Bendix says it invites students to learn about engineering. In 2018, students from nearby Avon Lake High School visited Bendix’s Elyria, Ohio, headquarters for a day of plant tours, demonstrations and hands-on activities to learn how engineers work on everything from design to testing. Younger students also have a chance to meet Bendix’s engineers and participate in engineering activities during the company’s annual Discover Engineering event.

Bendix provides further support for STEM education by sponsoring events like CMNH’s Women in Science Day and donating funds for educational spaces. Last year, the company donated $12,500 to Elyria Catholic High School to create a maker space. The maker space is a collaborative classroom for students to develop STEM-related technology and entrepreneurial skills, the company says.

Bendix also has contributed to the support of robotics teams, programs and competitions across North America. And as part of a long-standing tradition of giving back to their communities, Bendix employees support the education of future STEM students and professionals. Employees consistently contribute their time and talents to assist with student visits, volunteer as mentors, and submit educational projects for corporate grants through the Get Involved! Program, the company says.

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