Investing in Builders: National Engineers Week 

February 23, 2022

National Engineers Week is here, and at the Caterpillar Foundation, we are celebrating the inventors, designers, analyzers, builders and testers who make our world work.

As an engineer myself, I know how challenging the profession can be – especially for women, immigrants, and minority populations. But the resilience, creative problem solving, and determination forged in those challenges are the exact attributes we need in those that help build our world.

As a first-generation immigrant growing up in rural Kentucky, with a family in the healthcare industry, I was fascinated by how technology worked in a human-centered ecosystem. This interest in problem solving is what led me to become an engineer. Now, as the President of the Caterpillar Foundation, I use my engineering skills daily as we look at how we can solve problems and find solutions in resilient communities around the world.

Currently, only 9% of construction and engineering trade certificates go to women. At the Caterpillar Foundation, we take a systemic approach to help women pursue and enter STEM careers by partnering with organizations that equip students with the right skills and knowledge to thrive. In Australia for example, we are partnering with Engineers without Borders (EWB), which is providing inspiring workshops to thousands of students via creative modules. These modules allow under-represented populations, such as girls, indigenous students, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to develop an understanding of engineers as facilitators, change agents, creative problem solvers, and systems thinkers who actively contribute to sustainable development agenda. Together, with EWB, we are inspiring students, especially female students, to build knowledge around the role of engineering, and how it shapes our lives and our planet. This is just one approach to building an ecosystem of solutions needed to strengthen the talent pipeline. 

In addition to EWB, the Caterpillar Foundation is proud to partner with organizations like GirlUp, the Manufacturing Institute, the International Youth Foundation, and MIT Solve to help support STEM education, address skills gaps, and inspire a new generation of engineers from all backgrounds and walks of life.

To my fellow engineers: thank you for all your hard work as we create a more inclusive, sustainable, and innovative future. To all our future engineers: welcome. Pull up a chair, there’s plenty of room at the table for all of us.  Want to learn more about our commitment to building the workforce of the future? Learn more about Caterpillar Foundation’s investments in workforce readiness and STEM education here.

— Asha Varghese

President, Caterpillar Foundation