STEP Ahead: Building the Next Generation of Talent

By Nicole Evans, Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Through a partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, The Manufacturing Institute hosted five young ladies from across the country at the 2018 STEP Ahead awards in Washington, D.C. The participating girls had all been involved in activities throughout the spring at their local Clubs, where NAM member employee volunteers led hands-on workshops on workforce development and manufacturing.

The girls met for the first time in D.C. at STEP Ahead, where they joined AJ Jorgensen, AVP, strategic program engagement for The Manufacturing Institute, on a morning panel. The girls shared their thoughts on the manufacturing industry, favorite things about STEM and their nuggets of wisdom for #MFGwomen.

The inspiration went both ways, too. The STEP Ahead women shared their own advice with the girls, from recommendations for internships and college majors (like industrial design), to industry perks like lucrative salaries and opportunities for innovation and creativity.

Read on to learn more about five young #MFGwomen who inspire us:





Hometown: Cleveland, OH

Favorite recent project: Building robots—especially her personal robot, Wally!

Her advice for #MFGwomen: “Never let anyone get you down. Prove that girls can do anything.”

Her big idea? Cleaning up air pollution so that everyone can breathe healthy.

What she was thinking about at the STEP Ahead gala: “Dessert!” And, of course, how cool it was to see women appreciated for something outside of traditional gender roles




Hometown: Hartford, CT

Why she loves manufacturing: Manufacturing brings impossibility to life. From design to building, the opportunities to get creative are endless.

What STEP Ahead felt like to her: “Powerful. Girls are getting recognized and growing, all around the world, to show men that they can do anything.”

Her big idea? She’s got her sights set on her first invention! An avid softball player and pitcher, she has plans to create and patent a machine to make it easier for pitchers to practice and perfect their art.

Her advice for #MFGwomen: “Girls should not be underestimated. Seeing all of the women at STEP shows that nothing should be considered just a man’s job.”



Hometown: Chicago, IL

Favorite subject in school: “Science. There’s just something about it that I love.”

Favorite recent project: Dissecting a sheep heart and testing the DNA

Why she loves manufacturing: Manufacturing is another form of art.

With $1 billion, she would… Change the way school systems measure success. Not everyone learns the same, so the same targets don’t make sense for every young person.

Her advice for #MFGwomen: “Influence women when they’re young. You can’t love what you don’t know. Keep doing things like this.”




Hometown: Omaha, NE

Her big idea? No more textbooks! By going digital, we can use less paper and help protect our ecosystem. And, added bonus, students won’t have to carry around heavy books.

Why she loves manufacturing: Companies are using science and technology to improve our world.

With $1 billion, she would… Use technology to solve everyday problems like lack of food or shelter. Everyone should have somewhere to go after a long day.

What she was thinking about at the STEP Ahead gala: Whether Dad will be jealous of her new, surprise laptop from the MI! She was proud of him for not being jealous of her trip to Washington, D.C., but worries the laptop could tip the scales.




Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

Favorite subject in school: Math, because of the strategy and problem solving.

With $1 billion she would… Change hearts and minds! You can empower others to aim high simply by making them feel respected.

Why she loves manufacturing? It’s about creating and innovating our world.

Favorite recent project: She can’t pick just one! Coding, robotics and building a projector were all highlights. Missing class to attend STEP Ahead was her first ever absence from school.

Her advice to #MFGwomen: “People want to do jobs that help other people. They don’t realize that manufacturing helps people every day. Show them.”

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