Siemens and Deloitte bring STEM careers to life at LIFT

By Shannon O'Donnell

On March 7, 2023, LIFT, the Detroit, Michigan based nonprofit national manufacturing innovation institute, was buzzing with excitement and energy. The source? More than 50 local middle school students from Wayne-Westland Community Schools on their very first Industry 4.0 field trip.

Wayne-Westland is an inaugural participant in Smart Factory Believers, a global program powered by a Deloitte-led network including Siemens and other industry leaders in manufacturing innovation. The program’s mission is to empower teachers and students with science, technology, education, and math (STEM) education opportunities in historically marginalized communities today to inspire the manufacturing workforce of tomorrow. The program seeks to close STEM equity gaps by providing robotics kits, resources, and skills training needed to design, code, and build for the future.

The exclusive tour of LIFT, hosted by Siemens and Deloitte as a part of an annual Siemens Education Week and the first Smart Factory Believers’ field trip, empowered educators and school leaders from Wayne-Westland to connect classroom skills to real career opportunities for middle schoolers. Through six immersive learning activities, students were shown how technology is transforming the manufacturing industry. The best part? Watching students realize that they can be a part of that transformation.

“Imagine students visualizing themselves solving real problems, in real-world settings to create a more innovative sustainable future. Students see their futures in new ways when they are touring experience centers, like LIFT,” said Shannon O’Donnell, Academic Strategy Lead at Siemens DISW. “Partnering with academia, cultivates curiosity and inspires careers to produce transformative outcomes for students, educators and industry.”

While many students were familiar with 3D printers, few knew the industry terminology of additive manufacturing – making this connection was a major highlight of the visit. They witnessed how 3D printers produce intricate parts with incredible precision. Students were excited to learn how this technology allows for faster production times, more precise designs, and the creation of complex geometrics that were previously impossible. Realizing the real-world potential of this technology was a true lightbulb moment for them.

Though many students had experience with augmented and virtual reality through video games and arcades, seeing it in a professional environment was brand new for them. Students eagerly tested out Siemens’ electric vehicle simulation via an augmented reality driving seat. They learned how such technology allows for the testing and optimization of manufacturing processes in a safe and controlled environment, which was a revelation for many of the students and educators alike.

Ultimately, students were shown that every engineer, technologist, and innovator in LIFT, and beyond, started just like they did – as a middle school student learning algebra and “finding x” for the first time. By seeing firsthand how innovative technology starts with the classroom basics they are learning today, the “ugh” response to math class began to dissipate, and excitement began to take over.

“Research shows middle school is a critical, formative period for sparking career inspiration in young learners,” said Amitha Harsha, leader of the Smart Factory Believers program at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “During this event, we saw inspiration strike as students made connections with Detroit’s early college initiatives and asked specific questions about manufacturing careers and salaries.”

This field trip to LIFT represents the first of many future efforts led by Siemens, Deloitte, and Smart Factory Believers to provide students with opportunities to engage with real-world applications of STEM concepts. Together, we are committed to fostering the next generation of problem solvers and innovators. “Finding x” starts in the classroom, empowering students when “x” becomes the next revolutionary innovation in manufacturing, and beyond.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at