Cummins Uses Summer Program to Connect Youth with Engineering

SEEK third grader controls her team's robot through the obstacle course, as Cummins employees, SEEK mentors and others watch in amazement.
SEEK third grader controls her team's robot through the obstacle course, as Cummins employees, SEEK mentors and others watch in amazement.

When you were in third, fourth or fifth grade, did you build remote controlled robots, operational gliders or write computer codes for video games? Thanks to a partnership between Cummins Inc. and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), nearly 80 elementary school students from the Minneapolis area gained these experiences this summer. 

The Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) is the largest summer engineering program geared toward African-American and other underrepresented elementary school youth in the U.S. The three-week program is wrapping up its 12th year, and with Cummins support the program recently completed its first summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. SEEK gives elementary aged students the opportunity to learn and experience science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through weekly competitive projects, and guidance from NSBE mentors and Cummins volunteers.

Each day volunteers from the Cummins Shoreview and Fridley locations spent their time at SEEK to provide the students and college mentors their professional real-world expertise. In fact, Executive Director of Power Systems Engineering Gary Johansen and Vice President of U.S. Diversity Initiatives Lori Thompson volunteered as judges for one of the weekly competitions. 

Fourth grade SEEK participants race to answer an engineering trivia question, as judges from the Shoreview and Fridley facilities look on.
Fourth grade SEEK participants race to answer an engineering trivia question, as judges from the Shoreview and Fridley facilities look on.


“This was an awesome experience,” said Johansen. “The enthusiasm and knowledge of the students was so impressive and exciting to see. These young people are so far ahead of where I was at their age and if they are a glimpse into the future of engineering, the future of our industry looks bright. Hopefully, many of the students will continue the engineering path and look to Cummins to grow their talents and help position Cummins as the global power technology leader for the next 100 years.”

During the three-week program, the youth learned about key engineering historical figures and facts, different engineering disciplines and specialties, environmental sustainability, teamwork, problem solving and more. Each week the students were given a project, formed teams and competed against one another. The first week, the youth learned aeronautical engineering principles and made gliders, the second week they learned about robotics and made remote controlled robots, and the camp concluded with the teams developing computer apps and video games during the final week.

Two SEEK third grade youth begin to send their robot through the obstacle course.
Two SEEK third grade youth begin to send their robot through the obstacle course.


Thompson added, “As a judge it was interesting to watch the teams work together, decide on the answers, then select a spokesperson who presented the answers. Then, to see a team of five children huddled around a laptop enthusiastically explaining how they coded a computer game with pictures, music, movement and surprises was so exciting. There are few words to explain seeing the kids eagerly learning and participating with no ball, no cell phones and the only video game in sight was the one they created. It was magical!”  

“When I first came to the camp I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but after being here (at SEEK) I think I want to be an environmental or computer engineer,” said Azariah Barrows, a fifth grade SEEK participant.

Executive Director of Power Systems Engineering Gary Johansen prepares to field a question from a young future engineer.
Executive Director of Power Systems Engineering Gary Johansen prepares to field a question from a young future engineer.

Many of the young scholars forged a similar interest in engineering, thanks to SEEK. Mohammad Sumbudu, a second grade SEEK participant stated, “My favorite part of the camp was making friends, building the gliders and I want to come back next year.” 

Although this was the first year of SEEK in Minneapolis, the on-site NSBE/SEEK leadership have been responsible for launching and maintaining SEEK programs around the country. “I have been responsible for several SEEK programs, and what made this one especially different was the involvement of our sponsor,” said Osato Uzamere, SEEK Operations Site Coordinator. “The support we have received from Cummins has been unparalleled. At other sites, the sponsors have typically provided financial resources but not human resources. This relationship (with Cummins) has been wonderful.” 

Cummins and NSBE have had a long standing relationship. “In 2016, I was asked to become the Executive Sponsor and Co-Chair of NSBE with Maurice Dantzler (Cummins Electronic Control Director), with the idea to determine how we deepen the relationship and make it more beneficial for both parties (Cummins and NSBE)”, Thompson added. “In July of 2017, we hosted the NSBE Leadership Team and recent NSBE hires, and discussed ways we could strengthen our partnership. One way was introducing elementary age students to engineering. Enter SEEK for third through fifth grade.”  

Fourth grade future engineer makes some last minute adjustments to his team’s robot.
Fourth grade future engineer makes some last minute adjustments to his team’s robot.

The Cummins team walked away from the session and identified SEEK as one of the initiatives it wanted to support. The program fit well with the priorities of the Cummins Foundation, thus Cummins became an anchor sponsor.  

The SEEK program is just another way Cummins is helping to build stronger communities and advancing its mission to make people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world. 
 

SEEK staff and youth take time to take a picture with a few of the Cummins volunteers.
SEEK staff and youth take time to take a picture with a few of the Cummins volunteers.

 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Doing our part: Increasing digital inclusion through technology

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2020
GAAD is an annual observance dedicated to encouraging the world to talk, think and learn about digital access, inclusion and people with different disabilities. 

This year marks the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), an annual observance dedicated to encouraging the world to talk, think and learn about digital access, inclusion and people with different disabilities. 

At Cummins, we have a deep-rooted commitment to empowering our employees to reach their full potential by working to ensure a truly diverse, accessible, equitable and inclusive environment. For Dennis Heathfield, Executive Director of Inclusion – People with Disabilities and Veterans at Cummins, the opportunity to join GAAD and help the organization amplify its mission is a no brainer.

“Our goal is to reduce barriers to employment for people with disabilities and having accessible technology is a first step in that,” Heathfield said. “We are proud to recognize Global Accessibility Awareness Day and partner with our employees to ensure they have technology to meet their needs.” 

Making technology accessible

As a company with more than 60,000 employees around the world, efforts to create an inclusive work environment extend to the technology Cummins employees use to perform their jobs, including websites, software, computers and mobile devices. 

The company’s aim is to enable employees to fully and independently understand, navigate and interact with technology functions and features easily and effectively. 

“We believe that technology is for everyone,” Heathfield added. “As a company with a rich history of diverse and inclusive policies, we continuously look for ways to make the tools our employees use every day more accessible for users of all abilities.” 

From speech recognition software to captioned telephones (CapTel), the following portfolio of solutions – available to Cummins employees around the world – highlights the company’s continuous efforts to ensure that employees get the most from their technology. 

  1. Speech Recognition Software - The enterprise-ready speech recognition solution converts speech to text empowering employees to create high-quality documentation faster and more efficiently.
  2. Text Prediction Software – AI-powered text predictions help employees avoid typing the same text over and over again in applications they use every day.
  3. Magnifier/Reader Software – A magnifier/reader is a fully integrated magnification and reading program tailored for low-vision users. Magnifiers/readers enlarge and enhance everything on an employee’s computer screen, echoing their typing and essential program activity, and automatically reading documents, web pages and email.
  4. Captioned Telephones - Designed exclusively for individuals with hearing loss, captioned phones (CapTel) work just like any other phone, but users can listen and read word-for-word captions of everything said over the phone.

Ways you can help

Ready to take action? Learn more about GAAD and obtain guidance on how to improve digital accessibility in your workplace by visiting Global Accessibility Awareness Day online, and read about Cummins’ long history of diversity and inclusion

You can also help spread the word about GAAD on social media by joining the conversation and tagging your posts with #GAAD and #InclusionAtCummins

Lauren O'Dell Sidler - Cummins Inc.

Lauren O'Dell Sidler

As a senior communications specialist with Cummins Inc., Lauren O’Dell Sidler works with Cummins leaders to develop and implement communications strategies that reach Cummins’ global audience. 

Employee uses analytical skills to help hospital plan for COVID-19

Cummins employee Stephen Aryee's model will help health care officials in his community.
Cummins employee Stephen Aryee's model will help health care officials in his community.

Having grown up in western Africa, Stephen Aryee is no stranger to health epidemics and the devastating impact they can have on communities.

When he read a news article in early March about COVID-19 cases in the U.S. where he lives now, Aryee was curious to understand how the virus could impact his local community. He thought he might be able to help others gain insights because of his work at Cummins in strategy and market intelligence.

“I felt a sense of urgency when I saw the data,” said Aryee, a Market Insights Segment Leader in the Strategy group. “I felt compelled to find a way to help.” 

MINING THE DATA

Using data he found on Johns Hopkins University’s website, he began building a model focused on Bartholomew County, Indiana, where he currently lives and works and where Cummins has its headquarters. In under a week, the model was complete, producing four key outputs:

•    Actual infections compared to confirmed cases, showing community leaders how the virus may be spreading but hasn’t been captured by confirmed tests.  
•    Potential hospitalizations based on real cases instead of confirmed cases. 
•    Time for a surge to reach hospitals, helping health officials with capacity planning, so they have enough resources to respond. 
•    Expected peak of infection if social distancing guidelines are implemented. 
 
“I knew that if we were behind the curve when the surge hit our community, it would result in a lot of lost lives,” Aryee said. “We’ve got to have a handle on this. I thought if I could make the right models, it would help leaders make informed decisions.” 

PERFECT TIMING

He presented his work to a Cummins business leader, who immediately connected him to Jim Schacht, Executive Director of Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility, and also a member of a Columbus, Indiana, based coronavirus task force. Schacht quickly shared Aryee’s work with leaders at the city’s hospital, Columbus Regional Health (CRH). 

Aryee’s work couldn’t have come at a better time. The executive team at CRH was already working with an analytics group to apply state-level data but needed help localizing it to the 11-county region the hospital serves. He shared his work with CRH leaders to help with modeling data as they define action plans.

“His current role at Cummins requires using lots of data to create a forecast,” said Jahon Hobbeheydar, Executive Director of Corporate Strategy. “I’m proud of him for applying his unique skills to benefit his community in this critical time of need.” 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Cummins OEM protects customers and employees

Onan QG 5500 EFI commercial mobile generator powers an emergency vehicles (photo by Frazer)

Cummins Commercial Mobile OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Frazer, Ltd. understands the impact that essential workers can make during a pandemic. Based in Houston, Texas - Frazer, Ltd. is the leading builder of emergency service vehicles and generator powered custom EMS vehicles for over 25 years. 

For 15 years, Frazer has strictly relied on Cummins to provide their units with the most reliable power. In a time where critical care is at its peak, the company recognizes the need to be truly prepared for any variable. Because of its true independence from the chassis, Frazer opted for the Onan QG 5500 EFI commercial mobile generator to power their emergency vehicles and specialty mobile healthcare units. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the mobile lung screening unit was only used to screen for the beginning stages of lung cancer. Now these specialty units have been deemed even more essential and critical during the pandemic as the virus has been known to attack the lungs and respiratory system first. 

Specialty mobile healthcare unit
A mobile lung screening unit powered by the Onan QG 5500 EFI commercial mobile generator (photo by Frazer)

Frazer is taking every precaution when it comes to the safety of patients and medical personnel - who can take comfort in knowing that most units feature a state of the art ultra violet light decontamination system. This UV light decontamination system allows UV-C light to get into the cracks and crevices of the equipment to disinfect and decontaminate the unit. This is much more efficient than physically wiping down the unit or using aerosol systems which allow for too much downtime. 

Across the country, service teams and shops who partner with Frazer are also teaming up to help fight the pandemic. Frazer representative, Scott Harrell said, “You can’t have a unit down because it needs to be out there saving people’s lives.” Frazer is also offering free service training at their Houston production facility – which includes training on the Cummins Onan generator. “Anything to help the customer take care of their unit to help it last longer,” said Harrell.

Since the start of the pandemic, Frazer has been committed to providing safe and continuous service to their customers as well as a safe working environment for their employees. To keep up with production demands during the COVID-19 crisis, the company completed an in-depth analysis of their production lines. The results indicated that moving to two shifts allowed the company to safely limit the number of employees on the production floor. All employees are expected to wear PPE and stations have been geared to keep people working at a safe distance. The company is also taking steps to possibly install UV lights on the production lines to aid in continuous decontamination. From the employees to the customers across the country, Frazer is doing their part to make sure safety is always at the top of the list.

Jill Weiler headshot

Jill Weiler

Jill Weiler is a Marketing and Communications Senior Specialist for the DBU. She joined the company in 2012, and has served in a variety of roles including Visual Communications as an associate producer and project manager. Prior to joining Cummins, Jill served in the United States Army for 4 years.

Employee uses her Six Sigma skills to help families

Staci Selking put her skills to work to help childcare centers, and, by extension, working families.
Staci Selking put her skills to work to help childcare centers, and, by extension, working families.

Of the countless millions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, working parents of young children face a particular challenge. What happens when an individual at your childcare provider tests positive for the virus? Would the facility remain open? If not, who would care for your child when you’re at work?

Cummins employee Staci Selking jumped in to help her community answer these critical childcare questions and offered solutions that are now being considered for implementation around the state of Indiana. 

Staci Selking
Staci Selking, Cummins Quality Policy Office and Systems Leader

In late March, a task force composed of community leaders in Cummins’ headquarters city of Columbus, Indiana, identified this as an urgent need for local nonprofit, Children Inc. The child care facility is remaining open for essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis, providing a critical service for families who need childcare so they can continue to work.

Layers of details and scenarios had to be addressed so the facility was fully prepared and could respond appropriately should one of the scenarios occur. Time was of the essence, and the safety of the children and staff at the center was at stake.

The task force turned to Cummins for help. Selking, Cummins Quality Policy Office and Systems Leader, immediately volunteered her Six Sigma skills. She began by gathering detailed information from the Director of Health Services at the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, the task force’s liaison to the public health department, the director of Children Inc. and a leader at the local nonprofit Foundation for Youth.

GETTING TO WORK

Armed with this data, Selking spent many hours and late nights documenting various flows, including:

•    Preventative guidelines
•    Protocols for handling individuals confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19
•    Personal protective equipment guidelines
•    Cleaning guidelines
•    Communication plans and templates

Selking developed detailed flow charts and process maps for each scenario. The work was extensive and required careful interpretation and understanding of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. She partnered with Architect Veronica Franzese at the Community Education Coalition to translate the information into an actionable and easy-to-understand document. Within one week, they developed a comprehensive set of COVID-19 protocols for childcare facilities.

“Staci’s help has been invaluable,” said Kathy Oren, Executive Director of the Community Education Coalition. “We are incredibly grateful to Cummins and especially to Staci for sharing her time, talent and professional skills in support of our community’s emergency child care task force. Staci took this project on over and above her very full work schedule. We are truly grateful that Cummins responded immediately and offered one of their very talented belts for this project.”

GOOD TIMING

Selking’s hard work could not have come at a better time. Sadly, a Children Inc. staff member soon tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, however, the facility immediately implemented the new protocols having done the advance work recommended. Instead of having to shut down the entire facility, only one of four wings had to be quarantined, protecting the children and child care professionals. 

The task force is now exploring the state-wide potential of Selking's work and how it can be distributed more broadly to other facilities in Indiana, such as prisons and nursing homes.
 

Anna Lintereur

Anna Lintereur is Chief of Staff and Communications Manager for Corporate Responsibility at Cummins Inc. She joined the company in 2010, serving in a variety of roles including global communications leader for Corporate Responsibility and project manager for the construction of Cummins’ Distribution Business headquarters in Indianapolis. Prior to joining Cummins, she worked for Irwin Financial Corporation for more than 12 years.

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