Engineering the Future

emc1Your typical middle school student, when asked about her career plans, might tell you she wants to be a musician or an astronaut. Maybe a marine biologist. Citizen Schools’ students are a little bit different, though. On a recent trip to Lowe’s Grove Middle School in North Carolina, Jerry Diehl, Principal Test Engineering Lead at EMC and a Citizen Teacher, asked that classic question. What do you want to be when you grow up? Marcus, an eighth grader, declared “I’m going to be an electrical engineer at EMC!”

Marcus is one of a group of students engaged in an electrical engineering apprenticeship through Citizen Schools, and he has been for three semesters strong. EMC volunteers have taught this apprenticeship for nine consecutive semesters. Although electrical engineering is not a subject typically taught in middle school, EMC helps students make the critical connection that their education can lead to exciting careers in the future. With hands-on lessons in which students build solar cars, sound monitors, light displays and more, they get hooked on learning and hooked on the possibility of pursuing a career at a company like EMC.

Diehl said, “The members of this team volunteer their time for this apprenticeship for various reasons. For me, it satisfies my desire to do something impactful for today’s youth. Citizen Schools’ focus on middle school aligns with the time when a student needs to be educated about careers. They aggressively champion STEM initiatives and provide the tools necessary for success. Citizen Schools’ core values are exactly what attracted me to become a Citizen Teacher!”

emc3Capitalizing on this critical time in a student’s education, the team builds upon their self-written curriculum every semester. Constantly adapting it to make it more engaging, they also find ways to make key connections to college, and to the preparation that can begin as early as  middle school. With each semester, they become even better mentors --finding new ways to get the kids excited. No wonder Marcus wanted to come back again and again!

“My favorite part is building a bond with the kids,” commented Diehl, “Each student is different and we design our program with that in mind. I would have to say that the greatest moment occurs when you see that look in students’ eyes and know that you have connected with them.”

We call “that look” a moment of discovery. It’s when a light bulb turns on, and a student makes a life changing connection. Jerry Diehl and the team of volunteers from EMC’s electrical engineering apprenticeship are ensuring that these moments of discovery aren't few and far between, but a constant part of their classroom experience. Thanks to them, young Marcus and many others have found their calling.

Once a Citizen Schools student like Marcus, a young man named MacCalvin Romain also found his calling years ago in an EMC apprenticeship in Boston. He is now an Associate IT Business Consultant at EMC, a dream he discovered as a 6th grade student who learned to love computers.

EMC won't stop at MacCalvin and Marcus. With their commitment to inspiring students, I think we’ll be seeing many more bright young engineers at EMC in the future.