AMES, Iowa – Iowa 4-H and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach have begun to develop a greater focus in the area of science, engineering and technology through programs like STEM, GIS mapping and more. One Iowa 4-H’er took his interest in engineering a step further last summer by becoming the youngest intern at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids.
David Wehr, a Keokuk County 4-H’er, was involved with a project on virtual reality through Virtual Reality Education Pathfinder in spring 2011. He presented a showcase of his project, and afterward talked to some employees from Rockwell Collins. The representatives saw his work and were impressed with it. That summer, Wehr became the youngest intern at Rockwell Collins.
“In hiring David, he met the criteria we were looking for,” said Steve Schulz, talent acquisition director for Rockwell Collins. “There are a number of factors involved in our talent selection process. First, it is important a candidate possesses the amount of technical experience required for the position. Beyond that experience, we are looking for examples where candidates have shown a pattern with similar responsibilities in past roles.”
According to Shelly Greving, marketing director for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development, the Iowa 4-H program is focusing on preparing youth in four main areas: productive citizenship, outstanding communications, effective leadership and successful learning.
“The 4-H program is preparing youth for careers,” said Greving. “When youth come out of 4-H, they aren’t simply knowledgeable about content, they come out very well-rounded. They are good citizens, communicators and leaders. They’re doing very well in their jobs.”
Wehr proved that he possessed the necessary knowledge to complete a successful internship at Rockwell Collins.
“The education David possessed was a fit for the internship we placed him in,” said Schulz. “He also demonstrated through his GPA that he is willing to work hard to achieve success and has a solid understanding of what he is being taught.”
Over the summer, Wehr worked on a virtual product prototype in manufacturing with another intern. They worked with 3D modeling and programming.
“This was an awesome experience,” Wehr said. “I improved my programming ability and made new connections.”
Wehr worked at Rockwell again this summer. An upcoming senior in high school, he hasn’t yet decided where he’ll attend college, but he wants to major in engineering.
“As an engineering-based organization, we are a company that relies heavily on individuals that have a background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Schulz said. “It is critical that we invest in our youth to ensure they are equipped to be successful in driving our future.”
Iowa 4-H has focused on engaging youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for more than a century. The STEM focus includes agricultural science, electricity, robotics, bio-fuels and more. 4-H STEM provides youth with hands-on learning experiences to encourage learning about the world in partnership with adults that care about learning and are crazy about science, engineering and technology.
“With the emphasis being placed on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, stronger partnerships are needed to provide better STEM opportunities for our youth,” said Jay Staker, director of Extension Science, Engineering and Technology youth initiative, part of ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development. “At ISU, we have partnered with people in the industry to provide these opportunities for youth.”