As the largest structural engineering firm in Cincinnati, Ohio for the past several years, Schaefer is nearly always looking for incredible people to join the team. With a history of high retention + a reputation for smart, creative people, recruiting is about more than filling a seat, but about cultivating team members who can grow with the firm for years to come.
While we have team members who have studied at schools from coast to coast, we’re lucky to have top notch engineering schools in our backyard. University of Cincinnati alumni continue to make up a significant percentage of our team (even our founder is a two-time UC graduate). We’ve developed a strong co-op relationship with the college, hiring many of our student workers as full-time employees.
However, recruiting is a challenge. In the current climate, we’ve found the supply of structural engineers to not meet our demand. In addition, the supply looks largely like it did decades ago; our industry does not reflect the diversity found in the communities in which we work.
We want to help. Many of our team members have taken advantage of career days, explaining what engineers do and showing real-life physics often in the form of a video clip from Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare stunt – a favorite among most, but especially the younger set. But the fact is, not all Cincinnati students have the same opportunities. For some, the engineering profession may not register as a known or realistic option. For many, physics, a prerequisite to attend some engineering colleges including University of Cincinnati, is offered for a percentage of students or not at all. Simply, our industry is potentially missing out on incredible future engineers because of a prerequisite course that isn’t offered and/or students don’t know they need. This certainly attributes to the lack of diversity in our industry.
University of Cincinnati College of Engineering + Applied Science created a program to fill those gaps by offering a six-week summer physics course to Cincinnati Public School students, a district that lacks physics class availability for all its students. To fund the course called CPS Strong, UC sought donors, approaching firms with deep Cincinnati roots who it’s been working with for decades. Firms that wanted to help remove barriers for students who could strengthen our A/E/C community.
Schaefer + Messer Construction Co. joined CPS Strong. As donors, the firms not only fund the class, but also have opportunities to speak with the students, to explain why physics matters outside of the educational setting + offer a view into a profession they may know little about. One of Schaefer’s lessons test drives its new outreach project called Makers+Shakers. The shake table challenges students to build structures to withstand simulated earthquakes, but also shows that engineers are a breed who tinker, constructing the table and coding the earthquakes themselves.
Based on the success of CPS Strong, it will continue into future years to create opportunities for a diverse student community to thrive.