“Driving STEM” at BMW Manufacturing.
During October, BMW Manufacturing will provide a unique educational experience for middle and high school students in the Upstate. “Driving STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) gives students a fascinating look at robotics and manufacturing while also showing them how BMW builds premium vehicles.
“If we’re going to develop the future workforce, we need to expose young people to advanced manufacturing careers early,” said Ryan Childers, department manager of Talent Programs and Training. “A program like Driving STEM will give them a glimpse of an exciting and high-tech manufacturing career.”
Students will participate in a series of robotics’ workshops in the Zentrum led by the BMW Scholars team. Activities include virtual reality sessions, circuit board-building exercises, and exploring the use of collaborative robots and automated-guided vehicles. Students will also see BMWs in production during their tour of the X3/X4 assembly hall. All Driving STEM workshops for the fall semester are filled. Additional workshops may be offered in the spring semester in 2019.
“An experience like Driving STEM may provide motivation for students to consider a future career in a STEM-related field,” Childers said. “Advanced manufacturing jobs require more skills as technology changes, but this also means higher wages and a rewarding career.”
Driving STEM coincides with National Manufacturing Week (October 1 – 7), a nationwide celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next-generation workforce. Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, but two million jobs are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap (Source: National Association of Manufacturers).
Students will also learn about BMW’s apprenticeship program – BMW Scholars. With BMW Scholars, students learn skills that will prepare them for a career in advanced manufacturing.
BMW partners with four area technical colleges that provide education in four fields of study: automotive technology, equipment maintenance, production technology and logistics/supply chain management. In the BMW Scholars program, students attend class full-time and work at the BMW plant for 20 – 25 hours per week. BMW contributes $1,500 towards tuition each semester, provides healthcare benefits and pays students for their work at BMW.
“The BMW Scholars program was announced in 2011, and over the past seven years, there have been 180 BMW Scholar graduates,” said Gadrian Zayas, section manager for Technical Training and BMW Scholars. “Every Scholar graduate has been offered a full-time job at BMW Manufacturing.”
For more information on the BMW Scholars program, contact one of our educational partners: Spartanburg Community College, Greenville Technical College, Tri-County Technical College and Piedmont Technical College.