Engaging with students
In its second full year of operation in 2015, the ITW David Speer Academy in Chicago’s Belmont-Cragin neighborhood is making significant progress in its efforts to provide students with a world-class STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.
With its newest freshman class that started classes in the fall of 2015, total enrollment is now more than 700 students. In addition, ITW continues to expand its involvement in the school, with ongoing volunteer opportunities for team members to engage with the students.
“Last year, the freshman class had the opportunity to visit and tour ITW divisions and our headquarters to learn about our businesses,” said MaryAnn McNally, vice president of innovation at ITW. “The visits were an opportunity for students to see real-life application of the STEM subjects covered in the classroom while gaining exposure to professional STEM careers.” During the field trip, students had a chance to meet with Scott Santi, ITW’s chairman & chief executive officer, who shared his perspective on leadership and the importance of STEM education and careers to the future success of business.
In July 2015, ITW also hosted its annual Day of Action at Speer Academy. More than 100 ITW team members spent the day with students, working together on projects to give back to the community. For example, one group assembled hygiene packets for a local domestic violence shelter, while another made books for daycare centers that service low-income families.
In addition, mentoring, including participation in robotics clubs and the Curiosity Machine program, continues to be a focus of ITW’s engagement at the school. The Curiosity Machine program connects ITW scientists and engineers with students to empower and inspire future innovators. Using email and video messaging, ITW mentors from across the globe spend time guiding Speer Academy students through projects during the school year, including building a glider and taking apart an appliance. In its first year, 21 mentors from ITW businesses in North America, India and China participated in the Curiosity Machine program.
Joe McGowan, ITW innovation center senior research analyst, said, “Innovation is about investment, and through Curiosity Machine we are investing in people and our next generation of innovators.” McGowan also points out the benefits of mentoring through an online platform – notably the unique opportunity to connect Chicago-based students with engineers and innovators who have diverse backgrounds and experiences.