Women in STEM: Cummins CEO Jennifer Rumsey invites students to consider careers in manufacturing

Cummins President and CEO Jennifer Rumsey welcomed a group of students from Brown County High School to the Cummins Engine Plant in Columbus to encourage them to consider a career in a science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM.

Rumsey met with the female students as part of Manufacturing Day, and near the date of the International Day of the Girl Child, which is today. The United Nations General Assembly created the commemorative day in 2011 as a way to “recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.”

“When I was in your shoes, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” Rumsey told the students during the visit.

She was good at science and math, and engineers from Cummins encouraged her to consider their field. Notably, all of these engineers were men. During her days of studying mechanical engineering, the number of women in the field was low, and while there has been growth, she said there’s still work to do.

“The challenge for me, and even still today, is do you see people that look like you doing that job?” said Rumsey, who is the first woman to lead Cummins in its 103-year history. “… So creating role models is one of the reasons I love talking to women about STEM, because I want them to see that women can do these careers and be successful at these careers too.”

It’s important for girls to have role models that they can relate to and also to receive encouragement, said Rumsey. She noted that, traditionally, women may not be encouraged to enter manufacturing because it’s seen as a “career for males.” Such stereotypes and obstacles need to be removed, she said.

Opportunities such as the plant visit can help female students see the possibilities that are available in manufacturing and close to home, said Brown County High School counselor Rebekah Bryan.

“I feel like our manufacturing classes — specifically our Eagle Manufacturing — we’ve been really trying to get more women involved,” she said.

The 12 female students who attended Friday’s trip are all participating in manufacturing or engineering pathways.

Katie Roberts, a senior on the trip, said she was looking forward to learning about Cummins’ 3-D printing technology, as well as a LEGO activity planned for the visit.

Roberts said she expects to study nursing but also hopes to create her own business where she makes and sells jeans, which is already a hobby of hers. Her mother’s work with Home Helpers is what made her consider going into nursing.

“I kind of wanted to take after her,” said Katie.

Rumsey said individuals and businesses can encourage more people, including women, to enter STEM fields by talking to young people about their interests, helping them see how these could be used, and “opening doors.”

In her own experience, she believes her positions at Cummins, including serving as Chief Technical Officer, have been due in part to her own skills and interests, but also because people helped her “see those opportunities could be open to me.”

She hopes that the students from Friday’s trip have learned more about the opportunities available in manufacturing and learned more about opportunities that are available to them.

“Especially now, as technology is moving, there’s so many very exciting opportunities in engineering and manufacturing and we need — there’s a shortage of talent,” said Rumsey. “So we need to encourage all talent that is interested in this field to really consider the opportunities.”