Endress+Hauser's commitment to community generates many benefits

Community Career+Education Forum informs and inspires students, families with STEM activities

By Jim Montague

It's not a new subdivision, that's for sure. The houses are mostly older, smaller, modest, single-family dwellings with wider, old-style siding in muted colors. Plus, they're located right across the street from Endress+Hauser's U.S. headquarters in Switzerland, which began operations in 1970 and has been steadily growing ever since with new buildings and capabilities.

In more recent decades, residential, commercial and manufacturing zoning rules would likely have kept these houses and Endress+Hauser's buildings further apart in well-defined residential subdivisions and industrial parks, and that's not a negative due to the friction that often occurs between different land uses. In this case, it's obvious that some of Greenwood's houses and citizens and Endress+Hauser's facilities and employees grew up as next-door neighbors. Much like the baseball players and other athletes that used to live in the same neighborhoods as their fans. 

Perhaps its due to Endress+Hauser's history as a family-owned, Swiss company that's also embedded in other communities, or maybe it's because folks in central Indiana are more welcoming than average, but whatever the ratio, it's clear their roots are pretty tightly entwined after 50 years as neighbors.

One of the best examples of Greenwood and Endress+Hauser's neighborliness is the company's four-year-old Community Career+Education Forum (CCEF) for Students. This year's edition was held Sept. 20 on the Endress+Hauser campus and drew 750-800 local students, parents and families, who were hosted by 100 Endress+Hauser volunteers, or about a third of its total staff. They attended technical tours, played the "Are you smarter than an engineer?" quiz game, manipulated one of the Endress+Hauser's 10 U.S.-based PTUs (Process Training Unit) that teach hands-on process control skills, and took part in many other activities.

"We must inform, inspire and empower students, and all of their adult influencers, about what kinds of great careers await them, as well as the educational and vocational paths that will get them there," says Brandyn Ferguson, vice president of human resources at Endress+Hauser. "We just want this to be the best, close to 1,000-person, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) event it can be."

If that wasn't enough, CCEF is also remarkable because it's attended and assisted by 30-35 corporate partners, colleges and universities, local schools and school districts, libraries, unions and other community organizations. Of course, Endress+Hauser and its many partners actively seek new applicants to fill their personnel requirements, and Endress+Hauser even has a traveling college recruiting team. However, the CCEF event helps inspire and jumpstart the following generation of engineers and technicians.

"We hire college graduates, but CCEF mostly concentrates on 7th and 8th graders and high school students," says Jerry Spindler, custom training manager at Endress+Hauser. "The curious thing was that, after we hosted the first event in 2014, we began to get calls from local school principals and counselors. They invited us to come and talk to them and their students, so we began to take a lot of CCEF's features on the road. We started our grant program to support local robotics teams, and made grants and gave kits to local teachers and libraries, which let them offer more STEM and technical instruction."

Don Cummings, technical talent development manager at Endress+Hauser, adds, "If industrial manufacturers are looking for ways to fill their talent pipelines, it would probably be best to get more involved with whatever grade schools, junior high and high schools, community colleges, universities or engineering schools are nearby. It's especially helpful to get involved with students when they're doing their capstone or other senior design projects. Those teams may even begin coming to you, which lets them test drive you as a potential employer, while you test drive them as potential staffers. The other advantage is when one group of students gets involved, they tell the ones coming after them."

Just being a good neighbor, but it can make all the difference in the world.

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