Vocational Education: Changing Lives, Strengthening Communities

Zhao Yan (left), of Cummins Turbo Technologies, teaches a vocational education class in Wuxi, China. Many company leaders around the world are working to improve vocational education programs.

Mike Pritchard knows first-hand the value of vocational education. Growing up in a working-class neighborhood in London’s East End, he entered a technical education and apprenticeship program at 16, figuring he’d follow in the footsteps of his father and uncle who worked at an automobile factory in Essex.

Today, Pritchard is the Director General at the Cummins Filtration Plant in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, leading an operation that produces 100,000 filters a day.

His career has taken him to Germany, Spain, Australia, the United States, China and now Mexico, where he’s working with a local technical college to develop a vocational education program like the one where he started.

“A solid technical education can be the foundation for building a better life,” said Pritchard, who joined Cummins in 1993. “Not only is it important for companies like Cummins who need workers with these skills, it can change lives.”

From Xiangyang, China and Phaltan, India to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and Jamestown, N.Y., Cummins leaders have been engaged in improving education, from early childhood instruction through university post-graduate programs.

About our cover photo

Zhao Yan is the Technical Project Leader at Cummins Turbo Technologies in Wuxi, China.

He also helps teach a vocational education program Cummins is supporting at an institute of technology in the city. He says vocational education is good for students, good for Cummins and good for communities, too.

“Our hope is students, the community and Cummins will benefit from the program,” Zhao Yan said during an interview in early 2012 after meeting with about a dozen students to discuss the workings of a turbocharger.

“We hope through this program, we will give students a better understanding of real world technology and the needed skills (in manufacturing),” he added. “After that, we hope the students will pursue careers (in manufacturing) and we hope some of them will join Cummins.”?

Vocational education changing lives strengthening communities_2

Many are focusing on the critical need for strong technical and vocational education programs to help prepare the workforce for the 21st century. Vocational education can provide portable skills that lead to high-paying jobs and ultimately stronger communities, consistent with Cummins’ value “to serve and improve the communities in which we live.”

To support these leaders, their communities and others like them, the Company and The Cummins Foundation are partnering to start a vocational education initiative in 2012, developing new programs and working with existing ones around the world to find approaches that will achieve positive results.

“The evidence shows that the lack of employable skills can be a barrier to success for many individuals and for the communities in which they live,” said Jean Blackwell, Executive Vice President – Corporate Responsibility and CEO of The Cummins Foundation. “Solid technical training gives individuals a pathway to well-paying jobs and it creates a stable employment base for our communities.”

A Global Problem

A recent report by the World Economic Forum estimates that 10 million manufacturing jobs worldwide cannot be filled today due to skills gaps. The lack of effective technical and vocational training programs is a critical concern at Cummins as it is for many manufacturers.

A recent Company study estimates that Cummins will need 37 percent more technical workers in the next three years, including service technicians, diesel mechanics, shop floor workers and more.

Cummins’ plant leaders saw early on the potential for pairing their resource needs with the needs of their communities. Ken Anderson, Plant Manager at the Rocky Mount Engine Plant in Rocky Mount, N.C., has been working with area businesses through the local Chamber of Commerce to bring together high schools and community colleges in the region t improve vocational programs.

In addition to Anderson’s coalition building, three community colleges in 2011 received diesel engines made at the plant so their students would have the latest equipment to work on.

“Education is essential to our strategy of sustainable improvement where we do business and in the communities where we live and work,” said Anderson, who will become Cummins Emission Solutions Global Supply Chain Leader in August 2012.

“And it’s part of educating and empowering the workforce of the future and creating the capacity for economic development in the community. In that way, Cummins’ involvement is part of our being responsible citizens.”

Thousands of miles away in Xiangyang, China, leaders of the Dongfeng Cummins Engine Company (DCEC) saw the same potential. The joint venture worked with local government and education officials to start a vocational education program to help teenagers in the Danjiangkou region.

Many rural teens were sent to the city to find work after a water diversion project displaced a number of families in the region.

“This project is a breakthrough in two aspects,” said Wang Ning, Deputy General Manager of DCEC, who is in charge of the initiative.

“First, it is a vocational education program, which aims at solving the most urgent needs of the migrant families,” he said. “Secondly, DCEC has leveraged its multiple resources to assist the families, including financial resources, training and job opportunities, to ensure a satisfactory outcome.”

The program also helps the joint venture, which is providing teachers and other support.

“Through the vocational school, we believe we can cultivate highly skilled personnel who will meet the development requirements of DCEC,” Wang Ning said.

Learning Laboratories

With its history of involvement in wide-ranging educational endeavors, its global reach, its expertise in skilled manufacturing and product services, Cummins is uniquely positioned to help address the technical skills gap.

In 2011, the Company launched a global initiative, sponsored by Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger, to expand vocational education and address the shortage of skilled workers.

To better understand the problem and to identify an appropriate response, the project team started by conducting numerous interviews in and outside the Company using Six Sigma process improvement tools.

The team then formulated a strategy based on its findings. Now, Cummins and The Cummins Foundation have launched TEC: Technical Education for Communities, an initiative to develop and grow an effective global technical education program.

Vocational education changing lives strengthening communities_3

The Company is currently working to identify at least six locations to serve as learning laboratories. Among the early implementation sites will be the Dongfeng-owned trade school in China as well as training sites in Phaltan, India and Casablanca, Morocco. Cummins will provide expertise and resources to these programs.

Going forward, project leaders will test a variety of approaches, identify best practices, and benchmark progress prior to recommending a global strategy for community technical education. The goal is to develop students with the skill sets to work at Cummins or wherever their interests might take them.

There are many challenges to surmount. In many countries, vocational education has a stigma and the curriculum often isn’t connected to the needs of the labor market.

The TEC program will be sensitive to the market conditions, business needs and culture of each site. The training program in Phaltan, India, for example, is unique in that it is located in a rural part of the country experiencing an influx of manufacturing operations.

The Industrial Training Institute (ITI) is a 20-minute drive from Cummins’ Megasite in India, a 300-acre campus that will be home to 10 Cummins’ facilities by 2014.

Leaders from Cummins India are taking an active role, serving on the vocational school’s Management Committee along with other regional industry partners.

The End Result

Talk to the students at the Industrial Training Institute and it quickly becomes clear what a transformative role vocational education programs can play in the lives of communities.

Reshma Karand, 16, says she enrolled at the Institute because she realizes that her options are limited unless she finds employment. Many teenage girls who live in rural villages like Nandal, India, find marriage is the more traditional alternative – Reshma has other plans.

“I am hoping that some industry may provide an apprenticeship to me which will help me get practical knowledge,” she said. “With good teachers providing holistic knowledge – both theory and practical – I will be better positioned to get a good job.”

Reshma and her friends, Sandya Maji Guidagad and Swati Abaji Guldagad, are among 45 girls who enrolled in ITI after they finished their 10th year of schooling. First, they will complete a year at the institute working toward a general trade certificate. A six month apprenticeship program follows at one of the area’s manufacturing firms.

The inspiration to enroll came from female role models they met who worked at Cummins.

“I have seen girls employed in Cummins and they visited our school to inspire us to join the vocational stream,” said Sandya Maji Guidagad.

“Technical jobs are not only for boys,” she said. “We girls can also perform equally well.”

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]


What is the number pi and why is it so important?

Pi Day - March 14 - Cummins Inc.
Pi Day, the celebration of the number 3.14, is celebrated in mathematics and engineering circles every March 14

Pie is delicious (but pi is not). Unlike your favorite baked dish, however, a world without pi would look drastically different than the one we live in today. 

Question: What do Archimedes, Euler and Isaac Newton have in common?

Answer: First, they were all famous mathematicians. Archimedes discovered the law of hydrostatics; Euler is, to date, considered the most successful mathematician of all time; and Newton formulated the law of gravitation.

Second, they all spent considerable time working on the mathematical constant known as "pi." But what makes the pi so important for these and several other bright minds that they'd spend so much of their time focusing on it? Before we answer this question we have to first cover the basics.

What is the pi?

Simply put, pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and this ratio is approximately 3.14. So it's no coincidence that the mathematics, science and engineering worlds celebrate Pi Day every year on March 14 (3/14).

Pi is a constant, stays the same no matter how large or small the circle is and it is represented by the Greek letter π. 

Calculating the circumference of a circle using pi
Calculating the circumference of a circle using the pi.

Here is an interesting fact about the pi: Pi has infinite decimals that are randomly distributed. If you were to look at all the decimals of the pi, you will find your birthday (month | day | year) somewhere within the string of numbers. In fact, you can use this tool to find out where your birthday falls within the pi.  

Now that the basics are covered, let’s dive into why so many bright minds across the history spent their time studying pi number. 

Why the pi is so important? 

Well, our lives would be a little different without the pi. Practically most things we use in our everyday lives leverage the pi in their designs or in the way they operate. Let’s skip the most obvious ones such as tires, pipes at your home or the cup that holds your morning coffee, and focus on some of the lesser known yet indispensable uses of pi in our lives. 

  • Space exploration: From ancient Egyptians to modern scientists at NASA, humankind always had the utmost desire to explore space. Whether it was Sputnik becoming the first artificial satellite in space, or the Apollo 11 spaceflight doing the first lunar landing, pi has always been there. Today, NASA commonly uses pi to drive Mars rovers, discover potentially habitable worlds and investigating alien ice and beyond
  • Your daily entertainment: Streaming your favorite shows, talking to your friends and ordering food online, all depend on electromagnetic waves for wireless communication. Pi is used in calculating the wavelengths of these communications. 
  • Keeping your life Always On: Energy is one of most essential ingredients of our lives. We use electrical energy to keep our lights on, have smart devices connected and to power our everyday activities. Power generators are often used to generate this electricity keeping us Always On. Pi is used in many places in power generators from the calculation of engine displacements to the estimation of the fuel droplet size within the combustion system. 

A world without pi would have been very different, but thanks to all the bright minds humankind had, we don’t need to speculate that world and instead enjoy the world as we know it.

Sign up below for Energy IQ to periodically receive energy insights and trends. To learn more about how Cummins is powering a world that’s “Always On,” visit our web page.

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Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

Weather Related Tips for National Preparedness Month

This September, Cummins is partnering with meteorologist and FEMA-certified disaster expert Cheryl Nelson to offer weather preparedness tips for every season through a comprehensive video series and complementary guide available on our home generators website

The guide, downloadable here, provides seasonal advice for safely facing severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, high heat and winter storms, as well as general preparedness tips. In addition, we have specific tips for senior family members, children and pets in our infographic.

While most people know to have water, batteries and canned goods on hand, there are many other critical steps to take when preparing for a severe weather incident. A few of the unique tips found in our severe weather preparedness brochure include:

  • Keep important documents such as birth certificates, insurance cards and medical history on a flash drive.
  • Have a paper map of your area. Remember that your GPS may not work following a disaster.
  • Keep a disaster prep kit in your car in case you need to evacuate quickly or are away from home when disaster strikes.
  • Consider buying flood insurance, but keep in mind it takes 30 days to activate.
  • Invest in a home standby generator to keep your power on in the event of a long-term power outage caused by a disaster.
  • Include a photo of you with your pet in your disaster kit in case you are separated and later need to prove ownership.

While September is a time to highlight disaster preparedness, Cummins encourages preparedness year-round. Please visit https://homegenerators.cummins.com/ahead-of-the-storm to see all of our weather-related prep tips.

Cheryl Nelson, Certified Broadcast Meteorologist

Cheryl Nelson

Cheryl Nelson is an Emmy-nominated and AP award-winning Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, TV Host, FEMA-Certified Instructor and Weather and Preparedness Advisor for Cummins. You can visit Cheryl’s website at www.PrepareWithCher.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook @CherylNelsonTV. 

14 Tips to Make Your Home and Family Safer This Fall

As the summer heat begins to fade away, fall is the perfect time to step up disaster preparedness, both inside and outside the home.

Whether it’s making sure you are prepared for the heart of hurricane season, confirming you and your kids have a family-communicated disaster plan, or ensuring your home is ready for Old Man Winter, now is the time to get all your ducks in a row.

To prepare the outside of your home, take a look around your property:

  1. Inspect your gutters and make sure they are clean so water can drain properly.
  2. Are bugs getting into your home? Perhaps you need to seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors to keep both bugs and the cold air out.
  3.  Don’t forget to look up. Inspect your roof for any damage or leaky vents.
  4.  How are your driveway, sidewalk and steps holding up? Be sure to repair anything that needs attention.
  5. Trim any dead branches or trees that may be leaning over your home.

To prepare the inside of your home, remember these tips:

  1. After all the spring and summer pollen, now is a good time to repair dirty filters. 
  2. Clean your clothes dryer exhaust duct and the space behind the dryer and remove any lint or dust that may have accumulated.
  3. Hire a professional to check out your furnace, fireplace and chimney.
  4. Insulate water pipes that may be prone to freezing temperatures.
  5. Now is also the time to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Make sure you and your family are all on the same page:

  1. Have a family-communicated disaster plan and kit for each family member, as well as a meeting place if you were to all get separated.
  2. Build a mini-disaster kit for your child to keep at school.
  3. Have back-up battery chargers for electronic devices to ensure you can stay connected with loved ones if you experience a power outage.
  4. Consider investing in a standby generator to maintain your home’s power in the event of a weather-related or non-emergency power outage.

Cummins QuietConnect™ home standby generators deliver peace of mind, giving you confidence that your home and family are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. QuietConnect generators are also extremely quiet and incredibly affordable. They even add to your home’s resale value.

With a little planning, a little elbow grease and the right equipment, your family’s preparedness will be in great shape this fall. In the meantime, enjoy the cooler temperatures and vivid fall colors as we transition to autumn.


Cheryl Nelson, Certified Broadcast Meteorologist

Cheryl Nelson

Cheryl Nelson is an Emmy-nominated and AP award-winning Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, TV Host, FEMA-Certified Instructor and Weather and Preparedness Advisor for Cummins. You can visit Cheryl’s website at www.PrepareWithCher.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook @CherylNelsonTV. 

6 Tips to Prepare Your Home and Property for Hurricane Season

Even though hurricane season runs just six months out of the year, when storms hit, they do significant damage - about $26 billion annually, according to researchers at MIT.

When it comes to actual damage, two elements cause the most--water from storm surge or relentless rains and wind. Secondary to wind and water are the destruction both leave behind. Power outages. Flooding. Building destruction.

With all that in mind, I've put together the following tips and video to help you prepare for hurricane season. These are being presented on behalf of Cummins Inc., manufacturer of home standby generators, with whom I've partnered. Three of these tips are DIY - or do it yourself - things you can easily do yourself to help minimize or hopefully even prevent damage. You should definitely hire a professional to tackle the other three tips.


DIY Hurricane Prep

When it comes to do-it-yourself hurricane preparation, I suggest sticking with activities that are easy for you to do and which do not put you at risk of hurting yourself. For example, one tip requires you to go up on a ladder. If you are unsteady on your feet, by all means get someone else to go up on that ladder. Or hire a professional. When in doubt, don't put yourself in danger.

The tips below all focus on keeping water away from your home's foundation. That's because water can do severe long-term damage to your home.

1. DIY Clean Your Gutters

You should clean your gutters twice a year. You do it once in fall, not only because it is hurricane season, but also to prepare for winter. You don't want water gathering in your gutters and then freezing. That's a great way to make your gutters rip away from your house. You clean your gutters again in spring because of those proverbial April showers. Again, you want your gutters clean and free of debris so water can move down and out. And speaking of out, make sure the down spouts are clear and aimed away from your house so water goes away, too.

2. DIY Prepare Your Landscaping

Another way to keep water from getting into your home's foundation is through your landscaping. You want all soil and mulch to slope away from your home, not towards it. This keeps water moving in the right direction.

3. DIY Seal Foundation Cracks

Water is like a ninja when it comes to affecting a home's foundation. It's going to find a way, somehow, to get to it. Stop the ninja dead in its tracks by using foundation crack epoxy sealer. You can find it at your local hardware store.

Hire a Pro for Hurricane Season

Sometimes you've just got to hire a pro. It goes along with the notion of not being penny wise and pound-foolish. In times like this, it makes sense to spend the money to get a job done right, because DIY just won't cut it.

Here are three hurricane season prep jobs for which you should bring in a professional to get your home ready for impending storms.

1. Pro to Trim High Branches

When I want to trim a few low-hanging branches here and there, I can easily get clippers from my shed and do the job myself. But when I have dead branches hanging high above my house, I hire a professional tree service to trim those and any other branches that might come lose in a storm. These folks know exactly how to trim a tree to keep your home safe and to keep the tree alive.

2. Pro to Install Sump Pump Alarm

The first summer we lived in our house, Hurricane Floyd hit. That was 1999. I'll never forget looking out my back door and seeing my neighbor go by in a canoe. There was that much water in our backyard. Thankfully, our basement remained dry during the height of the storm, thanks to our sump pump. Unbeknownst to us, all of that pumping of water eventually knocked the sump pump off kilter. Shortly, thereafter it stopped working all together--even though we didn't lose power. We were none the wiser, until I went downstairs the next day to do laundry and stepped into 12 inches of water. If you live in a place where your basement floods, always have a pro install an alarm when installing a sump pump. If we'd had an alarm, we would have known right away that the sump pump had stopped working, and we could have stopped our basement from flooding.

3. Pro to Install Standby Generator

Around the same time as Superstorm Sandy in 2012, we got a portable, gas-powered generator for our four-bedroom home. We thought we were so smart. Problem is, we never stopped to consider two post-hurricane scenarios. One, we couldn't leave our street to buy gas, because of downed trees and blocked roads. And, two, we couldn't get gas at all, even if we could get out of our street. That's because so many gas stations were without power and therefore couldn't pump it. In hindsight having a home standby generator to power our entire home would have made so much more sense.

Cummins home standby generator

Unlike portable generators that can be noisy and require manual set-up, running cords and gasoline, standby generators restore automatically when the power goes out, even if you aren’t home.

Cummins home standby generator installation

Standby generators are connected directly to your home’s electrical and natural gas/LP systems, so there are no trips to the gas station and no running out of gas. To see if a standby generator is right for your family, visit homegenerators.cummins.com, where you can find details about the products, how they work and how you can prepare. There’s also a handy sizing calculator where you can estimate your power needs.

Final thought when hiring a pro: don't wait until there is a hurricane in the weather forecast. You'll likely never get someone in to take care of the job in time.

Leah Ingram, Freelance Writer, Lifestyle and Money-Saving Expert

Leah Ingram

Leah Ingram is a freelance writer, lifestyle and money-saving expert. Her mission is to help you feel more confident about your spending, regardless of income.


She is the author of Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less, which compiles Leah’s unique money-saving advice, including how a family can save $25,000 a year. Her second title in the Suddenly Frugal series is Toss, Keep, Sell!: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In.


Currently, Leah is working on a personal finance book, chock full of ideas to help middle-class families pay for college. That book, tentatively called College Money Hacks, will be out from Career Press in Fall 2017.


For more information, visit Leah's website at http://www.leahingram.com/about/.

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