Internship Program for Young Adults with Autism Receives Excellence Award

The 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award was awarded to a group from the Solar Turbines business unit for their project, “Another Bug Bites the Dust.”

The group developed a new internship program in 2016 to leverage the strengths of young adults with autism to help improve the quality of Caterpillar products. The program was created by the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR) and Solar’s Abled and Disabled Employees Partnering Together (ADEPT) Employee Resource Group.

NFAR has a tech program which teaches young adults with autism software testing skills to prepare them for meaningful employment in the high-tech industry which aligns well with Caterpillar’s focus on engaging a diverse workforce.  Because of this alignment, the two groups set out to develop a program that would leverage students’ strengths to improve the quality of Caterpillar products.

At the start of the program, four interns were hired to test various software, to date, this program has leveraged the strengths of nine students, and has been replicated within Caterpillar and two outside companies.

“Our main objective was to create a program that would provide a valuable learning experience for the students, with beneficial output for Solar, and the ability to grow and repeat it in the future.”

The program resulted in improved coding habits and work processes for the company. It also actively builds a diverse workforce by including employees with unique skillsets that directly improve quality and address a social need.