Celebrated since 1951, National Engineers Week – or EWeek – is a time to encourage the upcoming generation of students to pursue a career path in engineering. Done through public awareness campaigns of engineering achievements, each year has a theme to help recognize the many different ways that engineering impacts our daily lives and shapes our future. Held from February 18-24, the theme for 2018’s EWeek is Inspiring Wonder, and Southwire is celebrating by highlighting the wonder inspired in students at the Southwire Engineering Academy (SWEA).
Developed jointly with the Carrollton City School System, SWEA is a cooperative education program for promising students enrolled in the Carrollton High School STEM program to gain firsthand experience in the engineering field. To apply, the students submit their applications to their school CTAE Director who then, with a panel of teachers and school administrators, decide which applicants to accept. Several factors are taken into consideration, including grades, attendance record, and attitude.
“Because this is such a competitive program, we try to combine rigorous classwork with student interests to ensure that we are sending over some of our best students to Southwire,” affirmed Principal David Brooks. “While our students are intellectually capable, we want the applicants to have the enthusiasm for SWEA’s material too.”
Once in the program, the students are split into small groups and given a year to tackle manufacturing and technological challenges that full-time engineers would face in their careers. Each group is supported by two Southwire engineers who act as mentors to the students and assist in the process of discovery and experimentation. As they are working on Southwire’s campus with employees, the students are also expected to conduct themselves to Southwire’s professional and safety standards.
“Watching the students grow from high school seniors to young professionals is one of the most exciting parts of the SWEA program to me,” relayed Theresa Fisher, Southwire’s Power Systems & Solutions Manufacturing Training Specialist who oversees the SWEA program. “As they work together on engineering challenges, they are learning valuable collaborative, presentation, and communication skills. They are relying on each other to bring their best selves to SWEA so that they gain the confidence to discuss ideas with full-time engineers as if they’ve been working in the industry for decades too.”
The benefits of SWEA go beyond exposing high school students to practical engineering projects and professionalism. Southwire is committed to developing a sustainable future workforce, an objective that our CEO, Rich Stinson, wrote about in his op-ed article featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The goal for a sustainable workforce includes engineers, as their product innovations streamline current efficiencies and open up the construction opportunities of tomorrow. As our series of blogs about megatrends have indicated, the next generation of engineers will have to create solutions for the energy demands of smart cities and how to retrofit aging infrastructures.
“One of the things that is so positive about the program is that not only are the students working on real world engineering challenges, but they’re also getting a head start on their careers,” stated Dr. Mark Albertus, the Carrollton City School System’s Superintendent. “Because Southwire is such a cutting edge company, the students are being exposed to what the future holds in engineering. I’m so thankful for Southwire’s partnership with this. It’s not only benefitting the school system, but Carroll County as a whole.”
For more information about SWEA, please check out carrolltoncityschools.net. To learn more about Southwire’s commitment to product, environmental, and workplace sustainability, please visit southwiresustainability.com.
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