Our newly renovated COB takes a short look back and a long look forward for the modern workplace

The modern workplace is evolving quickly. Across the world, our collective experiences with quarantines, working from home, and video conferencing has changed the way we all work together. As we look to the future, many employees may have a hybrid schedule or even have a designated workspace. How can the post-COVID office best support these new ways of working? For Cummins employees at the company’s global headquarters in Columbus, Indiana, colloquially called “The COB,” the answer is already here.

Originally designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kevin Roche, the COB was erected in 1983 and has historically held up to 1,200 employees. Renovations on the building began in Fall 2017 with areas south of the cafeteria, and the now-complete north-end welcomes employees with a variety of work settings for individual or collaborative work, lots of natural light, and interactive outdoor areas.

“At the start of the project in 2017, we knew we wanted to implement the Cummins Smart Office strategy—flexible workspaces, lots of collaboration space, social spaces, and not many assigned desks. This is exactly what the post-Covid workplace needs to be,” said Josh Duncan, Indiana Campus Manufacturing & Tech Facilities Leader.

The COB was designed during energy crisis in the 1970s, so energy efficiency was one of the main drivers of the design. With few exceptions, the only exterior glass was north facing, and views to the outdoors were limited. The main source of light for much of the building was skylights, which posed a problem on cloudy days. Mirrors were intended to disperse light, but many people found them to be disorientating at times. 

“The labyrinth of cubicles and mirrors made it difficult to find your way around. The mauve and beige palette, while appropriate for the time, was dated. Of the 1200 people assigned to the building, as many as 300 were in the basement. Those are all things that we wanted to address with the renovation,” added Josh.

The American Institute of Architects ranked Columbus sixth in the nation for architectural innovation and design – right behind Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The reason for Columbus’ recognition in this category can be traced directly to Cummins, and specifically J. Irwin Miller’s investment in the city. In 1957, Miller made an offer that the Cummins Foundation would pay all the architect fees for new public buildings in Columbus, attracting world renowned architects such as I.M. Pei, Richard Meier, Robert Venturi, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, Deborah Berke and Kevin Roche, who designed the COB.

“I live and work in Columbus, and I've always appreciated the architectural history of the city and the COB. Because architecture is intended to reflect current culture, the updates made to the COB support the way we need to work today, with many collaborative work spaces and inspiring, bright areas for everyone,” said Jennifer Rumsey, President and Chief Operating Officer of Cummins Inc. “My thanks to all involved with the renovation and our continued efforts to make our workspaces welcoming environments.”

Cummins continues its commitment to Columbus with the newest improvements to its COB. Check them out below!

Natural Light and Views

What is called The Town Square is an open, common social area with great views to the Cerealine building and new, interactive landscape. There are many windows, lounge seating, and social areas for employees to enjoy. An original sculpture is suspended from the ceiling, representing an engine’s camshaft. 

Throughout the building, natural light has been maximized through the addition of many energy efficient, exterior window walls all around the park area, greatly increasing the views to the exterior and natural light in the space. 

COB Natural Lighting


“The former landscape was of a distinct era in American commercial culture; monumental, symbolic, and intensive in maintenance. The new landscape is both socially and environmentally sustainable, but demonstrably an expression of Cummins’ interest in expanding the creativity of its people so that they can choose where they will be most thoughtful and productive,” said David A. Rubin, founding principal of DAVID RUBIN Land Collective, who designed the updated outdoor areas of the COB. 

One of those outdoor areas is a circular work area with benches and chairs, called The Launchpad, as well as two new entrances to the park from the building.  

outdoor area COB

The new landscape is now only about 20% lawn, with the rest a combination of perimeter plantings and a meadow mix. This sustainable approach to landscape design needs significantly less irrigation or regular mowing, and provides a natural habitat for butterflies and birds. 

Workspace transformation 

Before the renovation, the building had capacity for about 1200 people with 300 people assigned to the basement. The new COB still has capacity for 1200 people, but workstations are no longer in the basement. The basement is now used as our largest conference center, with many large meeting rooms. These were in short supply prior to the renovation.

Open, visible stairs were added to connect all three levels of the building in one area. Energy efficient LED lights keep everything well-lit and vibrant.

COB North end workspace

The renovation added a convenient bridge to the second story of the historic Cerealine building, which was once a grain mill that produced a breakfast cereal featured on the menu of the Titanic. The Cerealine building now has a deck for outdoor dining with great views of the pond and fountains. 


Artwork has been an integral element of the COB since its inception, and this has been re-invigorated with the renovation. Due to the Miller’s patronage of mid-century art, the building already had a world class art collection with many artists now considered masters of the time, such as Wassilly Kandinsky, Josef Albers, and Richard Anuszkiewicz. The design team continued this tradition by including new art selections, by artists such as Paul Villinski, an American best known for his large-scale installations of individual butterflies made from aluminum cans found on the streets on New York City.

COB North End

The COB lobby has also been completely reimagined. 

“Before, the lobby was also a museum—for an engine company, but Cummins does so much more than that now, between all of our components and new power products,” said Josh. “We undertook a big project with the designer to create a space that would be a ‘short look back and a long look forward.’”

The result is a new space that still celebrate our history, but also tells the story of Cummins’ commitment to the Stakeholder Model: employees, customers, and communities are all represented in the new space.

Hanging up on the wall is a Cummins powered RAM D250 pickup, one of the first to be powered with a Cummins engine.  

Part of the space is intended to be flexible and dynamic. The flexible space currently features an exhibit about Cummins history with racing. 

Catherine Morgenstern - Cummins Inc.

Catherine Morgenstern

Catherine Morgenstern is a Brand Journalist for Cummins, covering topics such as alternative propulsion, digitalization, manufacturing innovation, autonomy, sustainability, and workplace trends. She has more than 20 years of experience in corporate communications, holding leadership positions most recently within the Industrial Capital Goods sector.

Catherine began her career as a marketing writer for a biotechnology company, where she learned to take complicated and highly technical information and make it accessible to everyone. She believes the concept of “storytelling” is more than a trendy buzzword and loves to find ways for her readers to make personal connections to her subjects. Catherine has a passion for technology and innovation and how its intersection can make an impact in all our lives.

Catherine recently moved back to her hometown in the Hudson Valley, New York after a several decades in Los Angeles and Chicago. She is a graduate of UCLA and enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband and three children.

How Maryann's signature style led her to a fulfilling career at Cummins

Maryann smiling

Maryann has never been one to compromise who she is. Her self-awareness and self-confidence are what brought her, unexpectedly, to Cummins in 2015. 

In college, Maryann worked on campus with an environmental regulation compliance team that managed the school's health, safety, and environment (HSE) as she worked toward her master’s degree in chemical engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology. 

“I worked with them for four years while completing my undergrad and master's degrees,” she said, “from the bottom up to the top as a supervisor - I designed safety & environmental policies and procedures for all the university’s science labs.” She ensured they met OSHA, RCRA, and industry standards for handling chemical spills, radioactive material handling, hazardous waste, and more. 

As she neared graduation in 2015, Maryann attended a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) convention in the hopes of finding a job in chemical engineering. Known for her fashionable, sometimes attention-getting nail color and designs, friends warned her before the conference to “be proper” and “dress neutral to look professional” to ensure potential employers considered her. Ever faithful to herself, Maryann ignored their advice and attended the conference with her signature style wearing long, green nails.

“When I was going to the conference, my friend made fun of my nails, and I was like, ‘what is wrong with the color? I'm going this way,” Maryann said. She was confident that her experience, extracurricular societies and activities on her resume would put her at the top of any candidate list regardless of her nails. And she was right. 

When she saw the Cummins booth at the convention, she stopped. She was somewhat familiar with the company because her father, a civil engineer back in Nigeria, had worked with Cummins generators. Maryann started a conversation with the recruiter who, after talking to her for a few minutes said, “And by the way, I like your nails!” 

Disarmed and charmed, Maryann shared with the recruiter what her friend had said. The recruiter replied, “We don’t worry about those things at Cummins.” From then on, the conversation was easy, and at the end of it, the recruiter asked for Maryann’s resume, impressed with her experience in the environmental space. She let Maryann know Cummins was looking for a Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) position internally. 

The Cummins HSE team is responsible for identifying sustainability opportunities as well as potential hazards. They develop processes and procedures to reduce or remove any risks, and train team members on accident prevention and response so that everyone arrives home safely every day. The goal is for employees to take ownership of their spaces and speak up when things don’t look right; addressing everything from a trip hazard to ways to conserve water. 

In the four years, Maryann worked on the compliance team at her university, she unknowingly developed the exact skillset she would need to work on a  Cummins HSE team. 

“The following week I got called for an interview,” she says, “and the rest is history.”

Maryann began as an intern at the Cummins Technical Center where she worked on a risk assessment tool that improved safety controls by 80%. After graduation, she returned to the Cummins Mid-range Engine Plant (CMEP) to work as an HSE analyst, after which she got the opportunity to be the Global Environmental FE Specialist for PSBU. She continued working in safety and environmental roles at Cummins, where she found a love for management systems.  

Today, Maryann is the North American Regional Audit Lead for Cummins, where she manages a team of six. She provides leadership and strategic support for North America ISO management systems and maintains audit consistency across NA. She conducts on-site, weeklong audit visits to assess risk and policy adherence. She also checks shop floors for risk reduction opportunities. When not on-site, she manages, coaches and trains other auditors, conducts gap analyses, and works on budgets for new site acquisitions.

Her priority is ensuring Cummins employees are surpassing industry safety standards, while reducing company costs and environmental footprint, with a target of zero waste. She takes pride in connecting her work with the company’s Planet 2050 sustainability goals. 

“It’s the ripple effect - that’s how I contribute. We leverage the management systems to reduce the risk at every site, which improves site process, which makes sure Cummins meets set out goals at the end of the day,” she says.  

Aside from her passion for the work, Maryann fell in love with Cummins because of the way everyone’s included. “You know, that warmness that you feel working with Cummins? It cannot be compared to any other companies out there. [My friends] envy how I’m heard and included at my job. At meetings, they ask, ‘Maryann what do you think?’ They want to hear your voice.”  

Maryann appreciates that Cummins isn’t a company that just talks about being diverse and inclusive - they actually practice what they preach. She points to the different avenues they offer, such as employee resource groups, women’s resource groups and the Cummins Black Network. 

“Those groups have taught me how to be inclusive at work,” she says. “It’s one thing to be diverse, but another to make sure everyone is included and heard. Cummins provides different avenues to celebrate your diversity and to include you within your workspace. They make sure everyone feels welcome.”  

They always give me projects that challenge me, teach me, and increase my knowledge and skillsets so I’m more marketable. They invest in me. Cummins understands that when employees are happy, they do more and better work.”

Recently, Maryann felt that inclusivity when she sat on a conference panel with Erica Baird, President of Industrial Business at Cummins Sales & Service North America. She said, “They paid no mind to the difference in our career levels. Me being in the same room, on the same panel and answering the same questions as these women that I look up to, made me realize ‘I could be that person one day.’ Cummins gives you that.”

Though she’s not sure exactly what’s next for her professionally, Maryann knows she’ll one day hold a position that will inspire women of color and of her background to dream big “because I was able to do it,” she says. “I see it happening at Cummins. I see women being President. I see women being CEOs, and I feel like it’s possible.” That possibility - to be seen and heard as your authentic self, from the shop floor to the c-suite - makes a real difference to employees. Take it from Maryann, staying true to yourself can lead to great opportunities - green nails, and all.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Cummins Inc. supports racial equity initiative to make African-American literature available in classrooms nationwide

group photo of participants smiling

Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity (CARE) partners with The 15 White Coats and Black Worldschoolers Mobile Bookstore to launch the Resilient Readers Book Club for students in the Martindale-Brightwood schools of Indianapolis

Powered by Cummins Inc. and its employee volunteers, The 15 White Coats and Black Worldschoolers Mobile Bookstore all came together on March 6 to launch The Resilient Readers Book Club at KIPP Indy Legacy High School located in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The club is a book gifting initiative for school age children that provides access to culturally relevant literature. Uniquely designed book boxes are filled with books and placed inside youth centered organizations, inspiring the youth of tomorrow with age-appropriate, high-quality black literature. Teachers, students and community partners attended the inspiring ground breaking event along with Cummins’ leadership, employees and CARE representatives. 

“Not only am I proud to be here today representing Cummins, but I also take great pride in the fact my family has a long-time history in this community,” said Tavonna Harris Askew, Executive Director & Social Justice Co-chair of CARE at Cummins. “Cummins has a deeply rooted history of fighting for social justice, serving its communities and living its core values of diversity and inclusion. This initiative, in partnership with these two outstanding organizations, along with our community partners, is making a great impact in driving change and helping kids read. It's providing children and families access to enjoyable books, powerful stories and meaningful community interaction that will cultivate a joy for reading, a healthy sense of self, fruitful lives and future aspirations.” 

A memorable event

Employees from Cummins Community Involvement Team (CIT), along with volunteers within the partnering organizations, delivered and assembled the 20+ three-tiered book boxes, designed by The 15 White Coats and Black Worldschoolers Mobile Bookstore. The boxes make available 15 curated books for children in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade. Along with Harris Askew, Dr. Russell J. Ledet, Co-founder and President, The 15 White Coats, and Natalie Pipkin, Founder & CEO, Black Worldschoolers Mobile Bookstore, shared the history of their respective organizations and provided an overview of the purpose of the book club to the students, teachers and community partners in attendance.

Recognizing the need

Being able to read is critical to success and part of our everyday lives. Only half of the adults in the U.S. are proficient in reading, and, according to experts, 3rd Grade is the key milestone. Seventy-five percent of students that do not read proficiently in 3rd Grade will never reach proficiency. According to Indiana’s National Assessment Educational Progress (NAEP), only 33% of fourth graders in Indiana read at or above a proficient level, with Black students among those suffering most. The NAEP results reflect the reality of educational inequities created by centuries of systemic racism that are still present today. High-quality, culturally relevant books that can serve as mirrors and motivation to a historically left out population is a great start in addressing the need. The Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood of Indianapolis has a scarcity of books in places where Black children are present and a lack of stories that positively reflect the youth within the communities.

Organizations taking action

In October 2020, Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity (CARE) launched so Cummins could take a leading role in the work to dismantle systemic discrimination against the Black community in the U.S. As a first step in this journey, CARE brings together all Cummins' capabilities – its people, balance sheet and philanthropy – to drive racial equity and combat the impact of racism on its people, communities, and economy. Through CARE, Cummins is taking decisive action to address and spearhead change throughout targeted CARE communities in the U.S.

The 15 White Coats, established in 2019, is an internationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission is to diversify medicine through mentorship, literacy accessibility, and economic assistance. The organization started after a photo of 15 Tulane School of Medicine African-American medical students, dressed in their white coats, posed in front of plantation slave quarters went viral. The organization has assisted over 2,000 students with over $500,000 in scholarships to help with entering the healthcare field. Moreover, nearly 10,000 15 White Coats photos have been distributed to schools, students, institutions, and businesses worldwide. 

Black Worldschoolers Mobile Bookstore is a bookstore on wheels sharing stories that uplift Black life, Black heritage, and Black joy. Described as a “bookstore on wheels with ice cream truck energy”, owner, Natalie Pipkin is on a mission to provide access and awareness to Black stories as well as excitement and engagement around reading. In June 2022, Black Worldschoolers Mobile Bookstore debuted as Indiana's first bookstore on wheels and is the first of its kind in the region. 

Future plans

Cummins Community Involvement Team (CIT) volunteers and the initiative partners are planning to deliver the three-tiered book boxes and read stories aloud to children at site locations throughout the year. The locations in the Martindale-Brightwood community were identified by the Edna Martin Christian Center, Kipp Indy and other local partners. Moreover, the partnership will host a literacy event in collaboration with Kipp Indy Schools later in 2023 to bring in the Mobile Bookstore and National Book Award Finalist, Children’s Book Author, Derrick Barnes. 

Tamra Knudsen smiling

Tamra Knudsen

Tamra Knudsen is a Brand Journalist for Cummins with extensive experience in the Capital Goods sector, serving over 20 years in various corporate communications roles. She began her career in accounting, moving into numerous positions within finance, marketing and administration, until she discovered her niche in the field of communications. Her passion is to create transparent and meaningful content that educates, informs and engages readers on a variety of topics for both external and internal audiences. 

Tamra graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, with a BS in Business Administration and Management.

Saroja Empowers Authentic Representation at Cummins

Saroja header

Saroja and Cummins are in a serious relationship. The two have been together for 22 years and, Saroja says, she’s grateful for every minute of it.

Saroja began at Cummins as a contractor in the Research and Technology organization immediately after graduate school in 1997. After three years, understanding the values of Cummins fit so well with her personal and career goals, when it was time to take their relationship to the next level, she became a full-time employee. Today, as the Director of Integration, EDI and Value Stream Management Technology Platforms, Saroja manages more than ten teams of product-centered, agile software engineers and product owners who code, develop software products, create value for their customers, manage technology platforms, and build automation of software delivery and APIs for every business unit, function, and area business office in the company. “We’re thinking about the big picture of where Cummins wants to go digitally. We have some big goals as an IT department to make solutions available to build your products wherever you are with agility, capabilities that are most valuable with resiliency and sound underlying foundations,” she says. “My team is creating a platform of digital solutions easy to consume by all either internally or externally.”

She calls herself a cheerleader, a motivator, and a decision-maker, and recently she’s returned to recruiting at conferences like the Society of Women Engineers, Out4Undergrad, National Black Society of Engineers, and Women in Computing . As subcommittee leader of the IT organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Attract team at Cummins, she gets encouraged to connect with thousands of talented women and non-binary computing technologists out there, seeking to achieve intersectional gender and pay parity. Information Technology and digitization will be essential for Cummins to pursue goals in introducing new products (Electric, Hydrogen), new digital capabilities, Destination Zero, and Planet 2050, we need all different perspectives and power in technical computing.

“This last Out4Undergrad conference was life-changing,” she says. “I met all these undergrads, nonbinary and transgender technologists as people. It was heart-wrenching listening to stories kids shared about not having access to basic things like love, respect, rights, or even access to a bathroom, which my kids and I take for granted. As a mother I thought, is that true? Is that possible? I thought I was in a modern country, and here’s a kid telling me they’re lost and have given up. I had a light switch turned on.”

Deeply moved, Saroja, who is influenced by Gandhi’s wisdom “to be the change you want to see in the world”, decided right then that she needed to do something more. She is currently trying to figure out how to make the biggest impact, whether inside the workplace or outside the larger community. At this point in her career, she believes her biggest contribution to changing the world can come from mentoring young female, non-binary or feminine-presenting, college graduates.

She notes, “maybe with just one sentence I can give them a new perspective, hope, encouragement and let them know it’s possible, it’s OK to go for it. Boldly go where no one has gone before, be who you want to be (your authentic self), and get to grow through that process. Plus, I learn from them as well.”

She’s also considering something as simple as proposing that Cummins add ‘other’ as a dropdown choice for gender on their job application forms. She’s confident something like that would be considered at Cummins because to her, “you’re valued as a person here.”

It’s one of the reasons that she decided to start her relationship with Cummins all those years ago. “Cummins is like an entire world of its own — with people from every country — a multicultural community which lends itself to diversity and acceptance,” she says. The richness of experience that comes from being around so many different kinds of people help her feel connected.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Partnering to give back

Cummins employees carrying boxes of food

Cummins Inc. and Indianapolis Motor Speedway anticipate the 107th Indianapolis 500 with community involvement activities and celebrations

On Friday, February 17th, with only 100 days until “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” Cummins Inc. employees partnered with Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) to make a positive impact in their community. Kicking off the 100-day countdown to the Indy 500, Cummins and Penske Entertainment employees joined forces for a morning of service, where they enthusiastically packed meals at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, the largest food pantry in the state serving 21 counties across central and southern Indiana.

Cummins leaders smiling with IndyCar driver

Cummins is committed to powering a more prosperous world through their global Corporate Responsibility priorities critical to healthy communities. In support of those priorities, Cummins’ Every Employee Every Community (EEEC) program, a long-standing employee involvement initiative, enables and encourages every employee to use work hours to engage in their communities. Today’s activities were a perfect example of that commitment!

And, wrapping up the day at the 100 Days Out Fan Party, Cummins took the opportunity to showcase their historic No. 28 Cummins Diesel Special race car and other promotional materials. Cummins and IMS have enjoyed a long and storied history together since the very first Indy 500 race in 1911. It was there that Cummins’ founder, Clessie Cummins, served on the pit crew for the winning car. 

Cummins display booth

With both organizations’ shared values of integrity, innovation and community stewardship, along with their over 100 year old histories, the partnership is a perfect match between two proud Hoosier companies that have grown to service customers from all corners of the world.

Let the countdown begin!

Tamra Knudsen smiling

Tamra Knudsen

Tamra Knudsen is a Brand Journalist for Cummins with extensive experience in the Capital Goods sector, serving over 20 years in various corporate communications roles. She began her career in accounting, moving into numerous positions within finance, marketing and administration, until she discovered her niche in the field of communications. Her passion is to create transparent and meaningful content that educates, informs and engages readers on a variety of topics for both external and internal audiences. 

Tamra graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, with a BS in Business Administration and Management.

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