Turner Industries teamed up with Mike Rowe – host of television’s “Dirty Jobs” – and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) to send the message that there are good career opportunities in skilled crafts in the construction industry. Participating in the 2014 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC, Turner employees set out to showcase Mike Rowe’s statement that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) should be STEMS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and SKILLS).
The Festival’s mission is to re-invigorate the interest of our nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by producing and presenting the most compelling, exciting, educational and entertaining science festival in the United States. It is estimated that 350,000-400,000 people visited the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this year to participate in the interactive activities of 3,000 different booths.
Mike Rowe was invited by USASEF to his own pavilion at the festival devoted to bringing attention to the need for skilled craft workers. As Mike says, “We should be talking about STEMS – science, technology, engineering, math and SKILLS, because without the skilled workers, everything conceived and invented by the scientists, engineers and mathematicians would only be prototypes. The skilled craft workers are needed to build the end products.” Turner Industries was invited by Mike to participate in his pavilion to illustrate actual opportunities for craft workers, and Turner chose NCCER as a partner to highlight their Build Your Future curriculum for craft certification and education.
In the Turner booth, children were encouraged to sign their name to a LEGO® brick to add to a structure that was a work in progress over the three day festival period. The Turner message was, “We are contractors. We employ skilled craft workers. They build the facilities that produce things that people need and use every day. You can be a part of something BIG by signing a brick and adding it something that will grow bigger.”
During the festival, nearly 4,000 children, ages 10-18, along with their parents, visited the Turner/NCCER booth, signed a brick, and learned about skilled craft careers. They were given sets of skilled craft trading cards (similar to baseball trading cards and developed by NCCER) with pictures of different crafts men and women. The cards describe jobs like welder, pipefitter, millwright, equipment operator, electrician, and the like, and define the job duties and the starting wages. Numerous teachers also visited the booth and were able to see the skilled craft text books and take away examples of skilled craft curricula. The exercise proved to be an excellent attention-getter, as Mike Rowe visited the booth multiple times, added his signature to the brick structure, and referenced it in a number of his presentations.
At the end of the Festival, the structure was dismantled and sent back to the Turner office to be rebuilt into a permanent structure incorporating Mike Rowe’s signature LEGO® piece. The structure will now travel around the country visiting different places where there is an opportunity to highlight the value and need for skilled crafts. The entire journey can be found and followed here, www.followmybrick.com. At the end of a year, the structure will be sent to Mike Rowe to be auctioned off on his foundation’s website, the proceeds from which will be used to fund skilled craft scholarships.