Bendix Grant funds award-winning science program in Cleveland Metropolitan School District

There’s no thrill like discovery, and no inspiration like seeing it unfold in a future generation’s hands.

To ignite these moments and generate students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems (Bendix) is proud to support the SAE Foundation’s A World In Motion® (AWIM®) STEM education program in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The $5,000 grant will fund implementation of AWIM in five classrooms, providing teachers with the training and supplies for a four- to eight-week program of scientific discovery.

“The SAE Foundation is such a great organization, and we’re excited to help get this program into Cleveland schools,” said Maria Gutierrez, Bendix director of corporate responsibility and sustainability. “Hopefully, in the future it evolves and grows, and we can engage our employees as volunteer participants and bring it to more schools across Northeast Ohio.”

The award-winning AWIM program brings STEM concepts to life through a range of materials for students from preschool to beyond eighth grade, with a worldwide reach of more than 6 million students. Evaluations have revealed that 98% of teachers in the program reported that it increased students’ excitement about learning STEM topics.

“Over the past 10 years, we have developed a relationship with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and demand for AWIM in Cleveland grows each year,” said SAE Foundation Executive Director Lori Gatmaitan. “This funding from Bendix will immediately go to work supporting Cleveland students and teachers and will make a measurable impact on students’ futures.”

Gutierrez emphasized Bendix’s dedication to STEM support, including during the challenging time of the pandemic.

“The pandemic disrupted education programs, and schools worked hard to adapt,” she said. “What wasn’t disrupted was our conviction at Bendix to support these efforts. Now that programs are beginning to return, we are there, as we always have been. We have not wavered in our commitment.”

Reaching Out, Making a Difference

Bendix, the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management, and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles, is also seeking to inspire future STEM professionals in recognition of Engineers Week (Feb. 20-26). Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951, this event celebrates the difference engineers make in our world and aims to engage students in engineering.

“We’re continuing our annual Discover Engineering event virtually, providing STEM kits and projects that encourage students to learn firsthand what engineering is, and we expect that soon we’ll return to offering tours of our labs and the chance to meet Bendix engineers at our new headquarters in Avon,” Gutierrez said. “And a big part of our effort is making sure that we’re reaching everyone and dispelling stereotypes about science and engineering careers, particularly when it comes to opportunities for people who are traditionally underrepresented in the field. Kids can’t become what they can’t see, and at Bendix, we have role models – women and people of diverse races and backgrounds – so that anyone out there can see someone who looks like them, and they can say, ‘If they can do it, then I can do it.’”

Last fall, Gutierrez noted, Bendix’s Acuña, Mexico, manufacturing plant hosted a STEM for Social Good bootcamp, an online event and workshop that featured local experts discussing careers in STEM fields and sharing advice for interested girls. The program encouraged gender equality and offered participants the unique opportunity to see how their work in STEM could help solve problems locally and globally.

Getting Sparks to Fly

Bendix continues to support a wide range of STEM programs through funding and volunteering. In 2021, the company delivered more than $30,000 in STEM-related grants.

“We helped support the Ohio Invention League’s Invention Convention activities and provided a grant for their Mentor Inventor program, and several Bendix volunteers helped judge their student competitions,” Gutierrez said. “And we marked a seventh summer sponsoring the High School Coding Camp offered by TECH CORPS and the Northeast Ohio Regional Information Technology Engagement Board.”

Additionally, Bendix has supported engineering teams at the University of Akron and Cleveland State University, as well as middle school and high school robotics programs.

“It’s all about instilling that passion for discovery and sparking that interest in STEM fields, no matter what age you are,” Gutierrez said. “Because everyone here at Bendix who’s helping shape tomorrow through our technology used to be one of those kids who felt that spark.”