News Release from GE Renewable Energy


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GE Foundation Commits up to $100 Million to Increase Diversity of Young People in Engineering

The GE Foundation is committing up to $100 million to create the Next Engineers program – a global college-readiness initiative to increase the diversity of young people in engineering.

Image: PixabayImage: Pixabay

The program will focus on underrepresented students in grades eight to 12 (ages 13 to 18), provide hands-on exposure to engineering concepts and careers, and ultimately award scholarships to pursue engineering degrees. Over the next decade, the goal is to reach more than 85,000 students in approximately 25 cities globally, inspiring the next generation of engineers to build a world that works.  

“Day in and day out, engineers are changing the world and solving society’s most pressing challenges – from clean energy to quality healthcare and more sustainable flight,” said Linda Boff, President of GE Foundation. “Next Engineers is designed to inspire and guide underrepresented young people in engineering, each with their unique perspective and diversity of experiences, to become the next generation of global problem solvers.” 

The first phase of the Next Engineers initiative will begin in September 2021 in select pilot cities. The out-of-school program will provide students with hands-on learning experiences and introduce them to engineering careers. The program will be structured into three age-dependent components: 

  • Engineering Expo for eighth grade students (ages 13 to 14) and their guardians with the goal of increasing awareness through career fairs and assemblies, including experiential activities to convey how engineering can solve global challenges that are linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); 

  • Engineering Camp for rising ninth grade students (ages 14 to 15) with the goal of developing engineering identities through an immersive week-long experience, connecting them to working engineers, and solving real-world problems through engineering design challenges; 

  • Engineering Academy for grades nine to 12 (ages 15 to 18) with the goal of guiding and encouraging students to pursue engineering degrees. The three-year program will include longer challenges and a capstone project, career coaching to expose students to different engineering pathways, and college-readiness workshops. Students accepted to higher education engineering programs will also receive a scholarship from the GE Foundation.    

Elizabeth Ivy Johnson, an engineer at GE Healthcare for 18 years, received a scholarship from GE while studying mechanical engineering. She said: “To increase diversity in engineering, today’s youth need to interact with STEM professionals who look like them. Next Engineers is an exciting program to get students connected with real engineers and help them overcome the financial barriers of higher education. And as a mother of three children, I know a hands-on program with a variety of activities will excite students’ interests and keep them engaged.”   

The GE Foundation has partnered with FHI 360 through its subsidiary FHI Partners to develop the program framework. The GE Foundation previously worked with FHI 360 on a program to remove education barriers for adolescent girls in Kenya and Nigeria. 

“Engineers turn ideas into bridges, water pumps and climate-resilient health care facilities,” says Patrick Fine, Chief Executive Officer of FHI 360. “Through our partnership with GE Foundation, we are committed to increasing the number of underrepresented students entering this essential field. We are excited about their future and the role they will play in solving real-world problems.”  

 The GE Foundation has a nearly century-long track record supporting education and uplifting underrepresented communities, beginning with the Charles A. Coffin Foundation in 1922, which encouraged and rewarded service in the electrical field. Over the decades, the organization has supported multiple education initiatives, from the GE Educational Fund in 1945 to the Urban-Disadvantages Grants Program in the 1960s, and the College Bound Initiative in the 1980s to the Developing Futures in Education investment in the early 2000s, all with the goal of supporting equity and quality in K-12 public education in the U.S. 

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GE, GE Foundation, engineering, Next Engineers Program, initiative, young people, college, education, diversity, STEM, professionals, experience, youth

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