Cummins Supports STEM Initiative in Indianapolis

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) is a critically important part of our society, and as such Cummins continues to grow and support STEM-based activities globally. In the greater Indianapolis area, Cummins sponsors the Minority Engineering Program of Indianapolis (MEPI). MEPI is a volunteer organization with the mission of increasing the exposure of 6th through 12th-grade minority students to STEM majors and professional careers. Cummins employees and employees from other Indianapolis organizations volunteer their time at each session to mentor and coach students on a variety of subjects ranging from core technical and science projects to project management, and even soft skills required to excel in professional careers as they matriculate from high school to collegiate life. These sessions are held one Saturday a month throughout the academic school year in downtown Indianapolis. 

Teejah Momoh talks to students about developing their personal brand.

 

An important piece of the MEPI curriculum are the mock interviews conducted by volunteers, which occur during the spring session each year. Cummins volunteers from the Talent Acquisition team review student resumes and conduct mock interviews with the program's high school seniors. This year, Brian Cook (Talent Acquisition Team Lead) and Teejay Momoh (Global System Engineering Tool Architect) assisted with the

Brian Cook, Talent Acquisition Lead at Cummins, conducts a mock interview with a student.

interviews and resume reviews. This process helps shed more light on areas of improvement, presentation skills, confidence building, and personal branding for the involved students. Additionally, it allows Cummins team members to identify future potential interns.

Cummins also sponsored students from the program to attend the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) national conference in Detroit, Michigan in March where they received the opportunity to participate in Pre-College Initiative activities and network with industry experts & professionals. 

The Minority Engineering Program of Indianapolis is paving the way for Indianapolis students to see STEM as a career choice and Cummins employees are an integral part of this journey. 

Lauren Cole

Lauren is the Senior Digital Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc, where she focuses on social media, employer branding, and digital media. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. She currently resides in Maine with her family.

Cummins partners with Immigrant Welcome Center for COVID-19 response

Immigrant Welcome Center
IWC volunteers stand outside its office in Indianapolis, Indiana

In line with the company’s continued commitment to building more prosperous communities, the Cummins Foundation recently issued a grant to the Immigrant Welcome Center (IWC) to provide support services to Indianapolis-based immigrant populations in the wake of COVID-19. 

IWC empowers immigrants in the Indianapolis, Indiana, area by connecting them to people, places and resources that enable them to build successful lives in the community. This mission is supported by volunteers, referred to as natural helpers. Natural helpers are immigrants themselves who provide first-hand guidance to new immigrants and refugees on how best to transition into life in Indianapolis and the U.S. generally. IWC has trained almost 200 natural helpers over the past 13 years. The organization currently has 60 active volunteers representing 28 countries and 29 languages. 

Cummins has had a relationship with IWC for several years. Cummins leaders have sat on the organization’s board; employees have volunteered at the organization’s events and Cummins has hosted IWC to present Immigration 101 lunch and learn sessions to employees. In 2018, IWC received support from the Cummins Foundation for its Immigrant Integration Plan, which created task forces to make Indianapolis a more welcoming community for immigrants. 

With the help of the Cummins Foundation, IWC will be able to enlist seven volunteers from the pool of natural helpers to conduct virtual wellness checks that connect immigrant populations to necessary resources and services considering the current pandemic. These natural helper specialists will communicate with the target populations in their native languages to: better explain safety protocols; offer support with schooling for children if needed; and specify how they can access masks, food banks and other such services at this time. They will also play a vital role in connecting non-English speakers with rental assistance and other programs that play an important role in the wellbeing of their families. IWC hopes that these wellness checks will reveal the gaps facing the target populations during the pandemic and inform how the organization can serve them better. 

"COVID-19 has had a big impact on public health and the economy here in Indiana. Effectively communicating helpful information to the immigrant community, specifically Hispanics, is a gap," said one of the enlisted natural helper specialists. "This program serves to bridge that gap and connect them with needed resources," the specialist added. 

Learn more about IWC and its work to enrich the Indianapolis community.
 

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.

Employees in the UAE put their writing skills to work to help children with special needs

Cummins employee Anirudh Singhania led the writing project, which is helping children with neurological conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, and many others.
Cummins employee Anirudh Singhania led the writing project, which is helping children with neurological conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, and many others.

When the Cummins Community Involvement Team (CIT) in the United Arab Emirates was looking for a project it could do with employees working remotely during the COVID-19 crisis, Anirudh Singhania immediately had an idea – writing books.

Given that Cummins is a global power leader known for its technical expertise, books might not be the first thing that would come to mind for an employee project. But these are not ordinary books. These books are tailor made to be accessed by children with special needs.

Singhania, a Director of Power Gen Sales for the region, says the books can be vital to a special-needs child. 

“For example, children with hearing or processing difficulties rely solely on books to understand what is happening around their world,” he said. “Commercial books can be too difficult to read, with small fonts, confusing pictures, and long sentence structures.”

“Our books help expose new topics, current affairs and academic concepts to children with all sorts of special needs,” he added. “It saves parents precious time in having to make books daily, and helps them explain difficult topics like the pandemic we are living through today to reduce anxiety and stress.”

An example of the CIT's books for children with disabilities
One of the stories in the Cummins' collection, this book features Leyla, a cat with different colored eyes, who teaches an important lesson on diversity.

NO ORDINARY BOOKS

The books are essentially PowerPoint slides with pictures and limited words per slide. The templates were developed by Cummins employees working in collaboration with the Doman International Group.

The mission of Pennsylvania-based non-profit in the U.S. is to give parents the “knowledge and tools to help their children with special needs grow and develop.”

The group addresses most neurological conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, and many others which manifest either in cognitive or physical disabilities.

Singhania said it is easy to get employees to tap into their inner writer once they understand the concept and the need. The 16 books recently made by CIT volunteers in the UAE had titles ranging from “What is a Virus,” “Importance of Reuse and Recycle,” “How to Make Compost,” and “Why are Mom and Dad Upset These Days.” 

A GLOBAL IMPACT

These books are being shared through online portals with thousands of families across the world who cannot use commercial books. This is not the first time the UAE CIT has produced books for the Doman International Group, but it is the first time the team took a CIT activity online. 

With the addition of the latest 16 books, the Cummins library has now reached 106 different titles in five languages, written by employees from every business segment. The books have been read by hundreds of children across the world. 

“Providing equality of opportunity for people with disabilities is one of Cummins key areas for Corporate Responsibility,” Singhania said. “Even in these trying times we firmly believe we can make a difference in the life of a child with special needs.”

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]

 

Key partner replaces hugs and high fives with masks and gloves to help families

The Boys and Girls Club of Seymour partnered with schools to help children with distance learning. .
The Boys and Girls Club of Seymour partnered with schools to help children with distance learning.

Seemingly everything changed overnight at the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour when the COVID-19 crisis arrived in southern Indiana.

Finding ways to keep kids safely apart replaced activities bringing them together. Distance learning replaced in-person visits by Cummins employees and others to talk about the wonders of science, technology, engineering and math. Masks and gloves replaced hugs and high fives.

But one thing didn’t change: the critical role the Club plays in the community.

“We have many families navigating a new normal and are in a state of transition,” said Ryon Wheeler, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Club of Seymour. “We are trying to keep their and our environment as normal as possible for the kids and their families.”

The Club, which provides a fun, safe and constructive environment for youth before and after school, is one of many social service providers supported by Cummins’ philanthropic grants that are helping communities around the world function during the crisis.

Seymour Boys and Girls Club
The COVID-19 crisis has forced the Club to adapt in a multitude of ways.

ADAPTING TO THE CRISIS

When schools no longer conducted in-person classes in Seymour, the Club remained open all day, serving as an important resource, especially for families with one or more adults working in essential positions keeping them from remaining at home.

The global pandemic has forced the Boys and Girls Club to be nimble in ways it never imagined. For example, it has always been clean, but the crisis required a new level of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting previously unknown – not just at the end of the day, but at the start of the day, three times during the day and after special projects and activities.

That same zeal for cleanliness extends to the procuring, preparing and dispensing of meals, snacks and beverages.

The Club also evolved to play a critical role in distance learning, working with students at various age and grade levels as well as teachers and schools across multiple districts. In many cases, Club staff called teachers or used video conferencing to make sure they were clear on assignments and guiding students appropriately.

But maybe the most challenging task has been to develop and continue the staff’s special role as mentor, coach, cheerleader and confidant behind a mask or from six feet away – or both. The Club is not giving up on its mission to inspire and empower all young people, “especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.”

LOOKING AHEAD

Before the crisis, Cummins employees from the nearby Seymour Engine Plant contributed their time and talents toward that mission. With Cummins’ support, the Club established a Science, Engineering, Technology, Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) classroom and curriculum.

That program, to date, has impacted more than 300 children. Some have gone on to Seymour High School’s OWL Manufacturing program, a student-run manufacturing business based out of the traditional high school, exposing students to varied manufacturing disciplines and careers.

For now, employee involvement has been suspended. But plant leaders and employees are eager to get volunteer opportunities started again when it’s determined that’s safe to do.

“We look forward to continuing our engagement with the Club whenever and however that might be defined in the future,” said Darren Kimmel, Plant Manager at the Seymour Engine Plant. “But it’s good to know our support is making an immediate impact now.” 

While the Club’s activities may have changed, Wheeler said its goal remains the same.

“We have developed a strong relationship between Cummins’ staff and our Club,” he said. “Our children look forward to Cummins’ volunteers and we only see our relationship growing.  We greatly appreciate the continued support from Cummins to further our mission in our community.”

 

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 employees serve community through assistive technology

Dempsey smiling

Dempsey Becker, a five-year-old boy living in Minneapolis, MN (USA), relies on toys for more than just entertainment. 

He uses them as a critical part of his occupational therapy at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, a state-of-the-art rehabilitation and resource center for individuals with disabilities and complex or chronic medical issues. 

Cummins employees in the Greater Twin Cities have partnered with Courage Kenny since 2006 to adapt, customize and invent both mechanical and electronic devices for children, like Dempsey Becker, and adults with disabilities using broad engineering and technical skills through design work known as assistive technology. 

To date, they have modified more than 7,000 toys and devices for Courage Kenny clients. Last year alone, when they reached a record level of involvement with the center, Cummins employees used their technical skills to modify more than 1,100 toys for children, making the toys more accessible and better matched to their abilities. These toys also serve as therapy enablers, encouraging children to continue developing physical and motor skills when possible. 

Dempsey, who primarily uses a wheelchair, enjoys being transferred to a battery-powered car during therapy sessions. He uses switch activators mounted to its headrest to drive it around the Courage Kenny facility. It’s more than just a thrill ride, though; this gives him practice controlling his head movements and strengthening his neck muscles. His favorite toy is a puppy guitar that was modified with bright lights to accommodate his vision impairment. 

“He lets us know how much fun he’s having by kicking his feet and giving a good belly laugh,” said Dempsey’s mother, Kelly Becker. “He doesn’t realize he’s working; he’s just having fun playing with toys.”

It’s fun for the volunteers, too. Brian Haupt, Cummins Electrification Integration Software Engineer said, “I like volunteering with Courage Kenny since it uses my skills as an engineer and doing things I already enjoy doing. I also like that it is helping people who otherwise can’t achieve the same quality of life without what we provide or contribute.”

“Working in the Adaptive Devices lab is a great activity because it allows me to put problem solving, design and fabrication skills to use,” shared Conor Youngblood Bruce, VPI Service Senior Engineer at Cummins. “There are all kinds of opportunities to make someone’s life easier by creating something unique and simple that can make a difference. Sometimes it’s simple, like a bracket to mount a cellphone to a wheelchair, or sometimes it’s more complicated, like a flexible stylus to make a smartphone easier to use.”

This work expands beyond the Minnesota-based team. They join Cummins colleagues in Dubai, Singapore, and the United Kingdom by sharing assistive technology designs to partner with organizations and serve individuals with disabilities. 

“Our relationship with Courage Kenny is really special,” shared Gary Johansen, Cummins Power Systems Engineering Executive Director. “Through our partnership over nearly 15 years, our employees and the clients and staff at Courage Kenny have shown us what a true community partnership can become when we combine our heads, hearts and hands.”

Kids like Dempsey would agree about the success and strength of this partnership. 

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.

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