Several months ago I got a call from the head of the local chapter of an international engineering association. He asked me if Xerox would be willing to sponsor one kit for students to build one robot in one elementary school in Lexington, Kentucky. Knowing the value of science and math, I told him Xerox would like to purchase enough robots for every elementary school in Lexington – that’s more than 100 robots.
Why are science, technology, engineering and math programs so important to me and Xerox? Well, I grew up in an engineering family. My dad worked on the railroads. Starting at a young age, I saw the power and possibilities of engineering first hand. That inspired me to become an engineer. And at Xerox, we use math and science every day to change the world. It helps that our CEO, Ursula Burns, is an engineer as well.
At Xerox we are part of the culture of innovation – we invented the copier and the laser printer, but also the computer mouse and the graphical user interface. At Xerox, we “get” science and math and use it every day.
Scientists and engineers innovate and change the world. Consider these inventions: the automobile and the airplane; space exploration and information technology; the computer and the Internet; all from scientists and engineers. The world, and the United States specifically, need to build on that. We need to create a new generation of scientists and engineers to lead us in the 21st century.
At Xerox, we’ve been working to improve science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education for decades. A few examples:
For 40 years, Xerox scientists have made science fun for hundreds of thousands of students. We bring science to life through our science consultant program. It lets kids experiment the way scientists do.
We connect Xerox scientists and engineers with teachers under one common goal: to reinforce science concepts for third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders.
Another example – Xerox’s partnership with FIRST, For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Together, students and Xerox scientists build a fully functional robot. As a founding sponsor, Xerox has been supporting FIRST since 1992 and holds a seat on its executive advisory board. The partnership has helped thousands of students to channel their curiosity into a challenging and fun-filled program that shows real-life science and engineering concepts at work.
I hope our $35,000 donation in Lexington is just the beginning for these kids, not an end. Hopefully this launches them onto a life-long love of science and engineering. At Xerox, we are always looking for additional ways to make a difference, including having our employees volunteer and mentor students, but we know ultimately money can only go so far. The business community needs to work with, and in, the local communities to enable schools to do more with what is available. We are here to help support this cause, but each of us can only do so much alone.
Connie graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Industrial Engineering. After presenting the check and watching the students demonstrate what these robots can do, she tried to find a way to skip out of work and spend the day playing with the students and the robots.