Taking time today, for the workforce of tomorrow

June 26, 2020

By Jay Kramer, Existing Industry Specialist

STEMersion is a regional effort between Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties to connect educators with industry to build tomorrow’s workforce. Educators learn exactly what the region’s top employers are looking for in a workforce, develop relevant lesson plans, and rollout these lessons in their classrooms the following semester.

A big thank you to team STEMersion and our company partners in shifting this year’s program to a remote setting. With momentum and interest from educators and industry growing each year, we are both proud and excited to have successfully hosted STEMersion virtually in 2020.  In an action packed week, over 30 virtual and interactive presentations in five days took a herculean effort from every partner and educator involved.  This new format for 2020 allowed us to keep participants safe while continuing our mission to connect educators with industry to help build the workforce of tomorrow.

Thank you to Ingevity, Ingredion, The Urban Electric Co. and Boeing South Carolina for making time for such an important program that exposes educators to modern manufacturers interested in growing their future workforce. Thank you for your investment in cultivating Charleston’s workforce of tomorrow.


Ingevity took the educators to school on the chemistry of a pine tree. We learned the wide variety of products and uses this renewable resource provides, from packaging to cleaning supplies, to environmentally friendly asphalt paving additives! Every single part of the pine tree is used as shown through Ingevity’s fascinating pine value chain demonstration. Hunter Harris (Director of Sustainability), Monifa Ellington (Senior Coordinator, Site Communications and Community Relations) and Eric Walmet (Plant Manager) prepared and delivered a compelling presentation for the educators who will certainly bring back lessons of communication, innovation, and problem solving back to their classrooms. It was a treat to spend quality time with a global company so enthusiastic about their people, the planet, and profits.

Ingredion, lead by Michelle Schaffer (Regional Manufacturing Manager) and her team, coached the educators on key skills they look for in employees. They stressed the importance of soft skills, communication, complex problem solving, and teamwork as educators were guided through a virtual facility tour. Educators learned about quality control and the chemistry necessary for producing consistent ingredients for pudding, salad dressing, yogurt and candy. Educators also learned that in a process-driven manufacturing environment, many opportunities exist in industrial maintenance. From mechanical (Welding/Grinding) to pumps, valves, electrical, and even robotics; it was exciting to lean the breadth of the industrial maintenance field as it relates to Ingredion’s facility, and the variety of problem solving skills needed for success.

The Urban Electric Company took time to show educators under the hood of their recently expanded manufacturing operation. As Sean Sykes (Chief Financial Officer) presented the importance of a structured problem solving framework, and root cause analysis, you could hear light bulbs turning on with the educators. Sean detailed the exciting history of Urban Electric and their positive culture of “Yes, and” which has helped fuel innovation and growth in recent years. Opportunities are abundant at Urban Electric; from design, to engineering, manufacturing and marketing. For success in any of these fields, communication was the top soft skill cited.

The Boeing Company shared their renowned DreamLearners program with the educators to demonstrate a few of the disciplines critical to success in the Aerospace industry.  Teamwork and problem solving topped the list. Frank Hatten (Education Relations Specialist) and his Boeing teammates each took a moment to share their respective backgrounds so educators could witness the diversity of career pathways that could lead to employment at Boeing. Educators were excited to learn about the array of educational backgrounds of employees that make up Boeing South Carolina.

Thank you to the Charleston County Companies that took the time today to invest in the region’s workforce of tomorrow. Your leadership in your involvement in STEMersion continues to help shape the bright future of Charleston County.


Charleston County Economic Development’s Business Concierge Program focuses specifically on the needs of the companies who call Charleston Count home. Our team regularly meets with our companies, and offer resources to fuel growth. If we may be of assistance to your company, please visit CharlestonCountyDevelopment.org and contact us.