I would like to start off by saying that I am so grateful for my time at Siemens this summer. I have learned so much in these few short weeks about gas turbines, steam turbines, and generators. In addition to learning more than I can even remember, everyone that I shadowed and talked to was extremely friendly and willing to take time out of their day to talk with me and show me around.
The most interesting moment happened during my second week there. I was shadowing someone that was head of a department in Generator. They were in the process of taking a generator, which weighs tens of thousands of tons, out of a huge container, that hardens the metal, using a crane. Not only was the crane massive, but the straps that held the generator were also massive. This was also a first-of-its-kind generator. This generator had special cables on it that could not be disrupted during any part of the process. Siemens is a German company, and this type of generator had not been manufactured in America; so, there were Germans that came over just to make sure the Americans did not mess up the cables on this generator. It was a very unique and interesting experience that I will not forget!
My biggest challenge that I have as I walk away from my internship is taking something that is as complex as a gas turbine back into a third grade classroom. I also learned a lot of the processes that occur while manufacturing these turbines and it involves a lot of Chemistry and knowing when to mix Hydrogen, when to pump it full of Nitrogen, etc. which is also hard to bring back to kids that are eight and nine years old.
My biggest takeaway is that we, as educators, need to be teaching our kids how to effectively communicate. This not only involves talking to teach other, but also being an active listener and hearing other peoples’ perspectives. Also, knowing how to give and receive feedback, whether positive or negative; and knowing what an appropriate reaction/response is. Every person that I spoke with at Siemens stressed the importance of communication and that is not something that should be taken lightly.
I am extremely excited about my newfound knowledge. Over the past few weeks at Siemens, I have met more people than I can even remember. Upon meeting each person, I always ask the question, “What can I/we do, as educators, to better prepare children for STEM industries like this one?” Almost every single person gives me a very similar response; which I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a scary thing. Almost every response I get revolve around soft skills. These soft skills include communication, collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking. All of those 21st century skills that we hear all of the time and are always told should be in our lessons, well now I 100% agree that they very much should be. Every single day we should be intentionally building these critical skills. It could actually change the future for our students and put them a step ahead of others in their career fields. I was speaking with an engineer last week and he said that when they are hiring for a new engineering position, they don’t test their educational knowledge because they have graduated from an accredited college or university, they assess their ability to problem solve, work well with others, and communicate. This was a major eye opener for me and showed me just how important these skills are. These are things that I can immediately take back into my classroom and that anyone can implement in their classroom, even if they haven’t had this same amazing experience that I have. This has been my most exciting discovery at Siemens so far, just knowing that yes, I can do something in my 3rd grade classroom to help shape my students to be more prepared for the work force and therefore, to hopefully have a successful future, whatever that may look like.
One challenge that I have ran into when creating my product from my experience at Siemens is the fact that Siemens’ manufacturing industry is extremely complex. They ultimately create the parts that provide us with power, and that is no easy feat. I am struggling to not only simply that process but also directly link it to the third grade curriculum. Even considering these challenges, I have a wealth of knowledge that I cannot wait to bring back into my classroom and into my school as well!