A new scholarship program from EOS North America is set to even the playing field for historically underserved students pursuing STEM education.
The lack of diversity permeating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) areas, in both academia and the workforce, is no new problem. Opportunities have always been more easily accessible for non-minority individuals of a certain socioeconomic standing and gender (read: white men). The lack of access, opportunity, and perceived interest in these areas for minority groups is a systemic issue. It stands to reason, then, that any actual, realizable action to be taken to address this must also be deep-rooted.
The additive manufacturing industry as it stands today has a diversity problem. So does the broader manufacturing industry, and so do larger technical and engineering communities. These often lead to big questions being asked, primarily among them: “Well, what do you expect us to do about it?”
It’s not so easy to hire more diverse talent when that talent pool can seem smaller, or those applicants are less likely to apply for openings where they don’t immediately meet 100% of a job listing’s suggested criteria.
EOS is among the entities in this industry taking action to address the roots of these employment issues. The company, based in Germany with a strong North American presence, is among the leaders in such efforts. They’ve recently introduced a new program, called EOS Affirms.
“We want to help students as much as we can with the resources to lower historical barriers to success and achieve their goals,” said Glynn Fletcher, President of EOS North America. “The path to a larger, more diverse talent pool starts with doing our part to help with educating students in the STEM disciplines and the career opportunities available to them in growing industries such as industrial 3D printing. But we need to ensure they have access to the necessary resources to pursue that education first and that is where EOS Affirms does its part. Our ultimate goal is to connect the existing needs of organizations, like EOS North America, with talented students and graduates.”
The initiative is a student scholarship program through which EOS North America is partnering with educational institutions. The funding available through the program “is meant to provide financial support to help lower barriers – particularly for students of color – to achieving their degree completion, and serve as an avenue of support for students who may need assistance financially and academically,” as EOS explains.
At launch, the Henry Ford Community College, Washtenaw Community College, the University of Dayton Research Institute, Texas State Technical College, and near-peer coaching organization College Forward are among the partners to which EOS has contributed scholarship funds via EOS Affirms.
“Your STEM scholarship program aligns strongly with our commitment to remove barriers and create opportunities for young people, especially of under-represented populations, to enable them to achieve a good education and empower them to build a rewarding career,” said Russell Kavanaugh, President of Henry Ford College.
The big-picture plan, EOS explains, is that efforts like this scholarship fund “will encourage other organizations, including those in additive manufacturing (AM) to undertake similar measures that will expand the talent pool while also driving greater diversity in the AM field and other advanced manufacturing industries.”
Diversity in Additive Manufacturing
It’s only through such efforts that we will see actual action with real results arising. EOS is to be commended for initiating such a program. Indeed, the company is standing as a beacon in 3D printing for how to develop and implement such programs. They are working on such initiatives that start from the youngest elementary students to advanced university engineering initiatives to help develop a stronger next generation of additive manufacturing workforce.
Many companies in this industry are increasingly taking action in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Last summer, EOS was among many others in 3D printing to issue a strong statement on equity. Such statements are often highly visible in the wake of traumatic times, such as those surrounding the murder of and subsequent protests for George Floyd — but by no means are these stances indicative of mere virtue signaling. EOS and the other companies highlighted in that collection of statements all walk the walk, as it were.
The dedication to a more diverse workforce, a more diverse industry, is one that requires significant action.
And, yes, study after study shows that it makes an incredible amount of business (read: $$$$) sense to have a more diverse workforce. More backgrounds and more ways of thinking lead to new approaches, more innovation, and eventually higher-performing teams and revenues.
“There is substantial research to show that diversity brings many advantages to an organization: increased profitability and creativity, stronger governance and better problem-solving abilities. Employees with diverse backgrounds bring to bear their own perspectives, ideas and experiences, helping to create organizations that are resilient and effective, and which outperform organisations that do not invest in diversity.
A Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. This finding is significant for tech companies, start-ups and industries where innovation is the key to growth. It shows that diversity is not just a metric to be strived for; it is actually an integral part of a successful revenue-generating business.”
Increasing access and lowering barriers to education is a major way to impact actual change in attaining a better diversity — a better industry.
We hope to see more initiatives like EOS Affirms arising.