Recruitment of STEM Graduates Now Begins in High School
Any firm that is planning to hire from the pool of future STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) graduates knows it is not getting bigger. This is an issue for the advanced industrial society we live in which depends in STEM technologies in key industries, including nuclear energy and oil and gas.
These, and other high tech industries, will need many more STEM graduates over the coming decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the strongest growth in STEM jobs will concentrate in Computers & Mathematics, Architecture and Engineering, Robotics and Manufacturing, and Life, Physical & Social Science.
Where will the workers come from to fill these jobs? Absent significant changes in the U.S. government’s immigration policies, from a demographic perspective growth in the U.S. population pyramid for new workers in the their late teens and early 20s does not look promising in terms of increasing numbers coming up in future generations compared to those already in early and mid-careers.
The percentage of men and women age 14-18, who will soon enter the workforce, has declined every year since 2016. In a country with a population of 330 million people, about two-thirds of them were in the workforce prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic or 218 million.
A decline of even 1% in this number equals over 2 million workers. To put that number in context, this same as losing the equivalent of the entire population of Houston, TX. It means that recruitment of STEM workers from a shrinking labor pool will be more competitive than ever.
The options are that the U.S. as a nation works harder to produce graduates in STEM fields, outsources some of the work to other countries with higher birth rates, or opens its doors to immigration of talent and with less restrictive conditions than are currently on the books.
In the near term, high tech firms are focusing on getting the attention of the next generation of potential STEM professionals any way they can. For one firm that makes measurement devices for nuclear reactors, a maxim from 17th century old English texts may turn out to be a key strategy.
Reuter-Stokes is Pursuing an Early Bird Strategy
What this means for high technology firms like Reuter-Stokes, a Baker-Hughes Company, which makes instruments for the nuclear energy industry, is that competition for future STEM graduates will get more challenging over time. For this reason, the firm, with its global HQ and major manufacturing center located in Twinsburg, OH, about 30 miles south of downtown Cleveland, is that it is starting its recruitment process with high school students. It is doing this by making them aware of STEM related opportunities in its industry.
Reuter-Stokes designs and manufactures sensors that operate in some of the most critical applications across the globe, including sensors for nuclear reactors, oil & gas, radiation detection and other markets.
The company is looking ahead, and is casting its recruitment net more widely to attract high school students who are trying to figure out what to study in college and how that degree will result in landing a high paying job.
On May 6th Reuter-Stokes hosted a successful STEM awareness event for about 100 Twinsburg-Area High School students. Reuter-Stokes hailed the event in a press statement as a ‘resounding success’ and promises to repeat it in 2023. It is the kind of event any supplier to the nuclear energy industry needs to think about hosting to get a handle on its STEM staffing needs over the next decade.
Spanning the science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines, a series of interactive activities and demonstrations across the Reuter-Stokes instrument product line at the event made a lasting impression on students. Activities included a panel discussion that addressed topics such as women in STEM and career paths for young engineers in various disciplines. The overall focus of the panel was to give the students an idea of what the future could hold for them if they choose to pursue STEM careers.
“Our objective today was to open minds,” said Rod Martinez, vice president of Reuter-Stokes (right) told this blog in an interview at the STEM event.
“I hope that we’ve inspired a few students to consider a career in the STEM fields.”
Martinez emphasized the firm is hiring electrical and mechanical engineers and technical staff for its product lines in the nuclear energy and oil and gas industries.
In terms of the nuclear industry, Martinez said the firm is producing sensors and other technologically complex products “for the first wave of small modular reactors (SMRs). The BWRX-300 is one of our focus areas.”
“Reuter-Stokes is excited to see a revived interest in nuclear energy and to be able to bring our solutions to the industry.”
In terms of job prospects for the students who attended the STEM event, Martinez said, “We are always looking to recruit talented people; I’d love to think that in a few years some of today’s students will be back at Reuter-Stokes and developing the cool, tough, ground-breaking sensor technology that we deploy in some of the world’s most challenging applications.”
Enthusiasm for STEM careers was not lacking among the students who attended the day long event. Asia Howard, a student from Twinsburg High School said: “I’ve always been interested in how things work. Learning how sensors are used around the world was really cool – nuclear power plants could literally not produce power without Reuter-Stokes sensors! Thank you to everyone involved.”
Race Car Driving Requires STEM Skills – A highlight of the day long event was a VIP appearance from Cruz Pedregon, two-time winner of the National Hot Rod Association Drag Racing Series Funny Car competition, who championed the theme of the event, “driving technology innovation.”
Pedregon (right) is sponsored by Reuter-Stokes, At the Twinsburg STEM event he showcased his $325,000 ‘Nitro Funny Car’ to deliver a series of presentations that demonstrated the cutting-edge technology used in Funny Car drag racing vehicles – technology that allows the cars to reach speeds of more than 330 mph.
“I’m passionate about STEM Programs, so it was a privilege to meet the students today and explain a little more about the boundary-busting technology that we use to get our car to hit zero to 100 in under 0.8 seconds,” said Pedregon.
Q&A with Twinsburg High School Students
During the morning program, a panel of Reuter-Stokes management and technical staff, and a representative from human resources, explained what it is like to have STEM careers at the company. Here’s summary of some of the questions the students asked and the answers to them as provided by the panel.
Q: For students seeking STEM carriers, what opportunities are available at Reuter-Stokes in the area of instrumentation for the nuclear energy industry? Can the firm provide some example profiles of roles / responsibilities, etc. What is a day at work like for them?
A: For instance, as an electrical engineer you will be responsible for working as an integral member of the multidisciplinary engineering team.
- Developing analog and digital signal processing electronics, either as improvements to existing designs or from scratch.
- Ensuring electrical component and system designs have appropriate analytical verification, production level validation, and field-testing.
- Working with other engineers, technicians, and designers in a team environment to foster a creative workplace, allowing for new ideas while embracing speed and excellence.
- Documenting work products in written form, e.g., technical notes, design specifications, journal publications
Q: What types of engineering studies, such as a degree program, should a student seeking these opportunities pursue to earn the necessary qualifications to work in the field?
A: Really any of the STEM fields would be applicable, however, the most prevalent roles at our site are in the areas of electrical and mechanical engineering but we do have opportunities for every functional field.
Q: Which are the university programs which are producing graduates with the kinds of knowledge and skills that Reuter-Stokes seeks? Where has Reuter-Stokes recently held recruiting events for recent graduates in STEM programs?
A: We work closely with most of the local universities in northeast Ohio focused on the sciences – Akron University, Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, etc. We have done recruiting events at these universities. We are always looking to build relationships with universities across Ohio and in the neighboring states.
Q: Is a four-year college degree the only path forward to employment with Reuter-Stokes? Are there two-year and technical trade schooling paths that would also lead to careers in this field?
A: We have opportunities for all levels of education starting from high school graduates to Ph.D. level positions. A four-year degree is not requirement for all positions that we have opportunities for. We also offer tuition reimbursement for anyone looking to further their education and to then use that applied knowledge for opportunities within Reuter-Stokes.
Q: Does Baker Hughes offer internships during the college years so that a student can try out the job to see if they are a good fit for it?
A: We offer internships in all functional areas. The majority are in the field of engineering or other sciences.
Q: Who should students contact at Reuter-Stokes to learn more about the company? Please visit our careers web page to see what positions we recruit for to support our business.
Reuter-Stokes, a Baker Hughes business, designs and manufactures mission-critical measuring devices for precise radiation measurement, pressurized and boiling water reactor monitoring, UV flame detection, and downhole sensors for directional drilling.
Based in Twinsburg, Ohio, Reuter-Stokes offers more than six decades of on-going expertise in the design, manufacturing and installation of its extensive portfolio of gamma and neutron detection technologies. As an industry leader, the company provides innovative technologies and services including extensive research, development, and production of high-quality detectors for a broad range of radiation monitoring applications.
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