What Has Red Arms, Green Wheels and Defies Gravity?

By Dora Smith

Siemens PLM Software provides software for students

For those of you who couldn’t make it to PLM Connection last month, Bill Boswell’s shared some great academic stories in his keynote presentation. Spoiler alert: the answer to What Has Red Arms, Green Wheels and Defies Gravity is TOMORROW’S WORKFORCE.

Catch the video replay and key highlights below.

Bill highlighted how STEM education plays a key role in the manufacturing renaissance underway.

He shared the story of Daniel and the senior design project atRose-Hulman Institute of Technology, that changed the lives of everyone involved.

Bill noted that we still face millions of manufacturing jobs worldwide unfilled due to a growing skills gap. So he asked: “where will you find your next generation of employees?”

He highlighted how students are tackling big issues like urban population growth and pollution. He shared stories from these key academic initiatives:

  • Greenpower Challenge is dedicated to promoting engineering and technology to students ages 9 to 25. This is achieved through unique hands-on projects to design, build and race electric cars.

  • EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future is a government-industry-academic partnership by the Department of Energy. It focuses on energy-efficient technologies to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

  • PACE or Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education links GM and software/hardware partners with select academic institutions worldwide to develop the automotive PLM team of the future.  Current student projects address urban mobility from market requirements through design and manufacturing.


Students are also using Siemens PLM software in solar car racing. Bill had Principia College on stage at PLM Connection. Principia is a small private college in Illinois with less than 1,000 students. It doesn’t have an engineering program but is training future engineers and computer scientists by competing in solar car races around the world. They came in third in last year’s American Solar Challenge race, beating schools up to 50 times their size.

Bill moved from green academic stories to space. He shared this video from the University of Leicester.

Bill also shared the story of Arizona State University engineering students who are building a mineral-scouting instrument for a NASA asteroid mission. For climbing rocks closer to our planet, check out the belay device students at Johannes Kepler University in Austria built and tested:

We are committed to industry-focused academics programs that provide practical real-word experience, like these. We believe it is important to start early at the k-12 level to build interest in STEM.

Bill challenged the audience to partner with us on additional hands-on industry specific competitions as well as getting involved with your local K-12 schools and community colleges. We have resources to help all ages develop into the next generation of designers, engineers and computer scientists.

For additional coverage of Bill’s presentation, see Digital Manufacturing Report: Siemens to Manufacturing a Skilled Workforce and ConnectPress: PLM World: Siemens PLM Connection Tuesday Keynote.

Let us know of any great student stories near you.

– Dora

P.S. Special thanks to PLM World for their support of academia. At PLM Connection, attendees entered a raffle for a Cube 3D printer donated by PLM World. Entry forms asked for volunteers to get involved in STEM programs. Thank you to all who volunteered! We were honored to get this comment on the entry form from a Purdue University student “Siemens is the model for educational partnership! Bar none!” Thank you Amy 😉

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