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20 Years of Giving: A Look at Eaton’s Corporate Partnership with Orange County United Way

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Since 1998, Eaton, a leading diversified power management company, has made it a priority to positively impact the community. By partnering with Orange County United Way for its corporate philanthropy campaigns, Eaton has provided its employees with numerous volunteering, advocacy and giving opportunities – each of which have made meaningful changes in our community.

Twenty years into its partnership with Orange County United Way, Eaton is more involved than ever.

Most recently, Eaton worked with United Way to inspire local youth to pursue careers in STEM fields. Through a special Youth Career Connections speaker series and volunteer days that brought members of Eaton’s WAVE (Women Adding Value at Eaton) program to five classrooms, Eaton encouraged nearly 200 students to pursue their career goals.

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Jason Ley, Global Intelligence Manager at Eaton, shares his career journey with high school students as part of United Way’s Youth Career Connections program.

Inspiring Students in STEM Careers

Strategic partnerships like the one between Orange County United Way and Eaton’s VAMOS members, a resource group created by Eaton which focuses on empowering the leadership of Hispanic and Latinos within their company and local communities, help to foster a sense of inclusion and diversity which serves to reinforce the work of Orange County United Way’s Youth Career Connections program.

By connecting with Career Technical Education Engineering classes at Santiago High School and Los Amigos High School, students had the opportunity to meet and learn from Eaton engineers through a two-part speaker series. The speaker series brought three STEM professionals on campus to share their personal career journeys that led them to Eaton Aerospace.

Youth Career Connections program is a work-based learning initiative that infuses classroom learning with real-world experiences, connecting students directly to employers here in Orange County. The goal of the program is to help students prepare for lifelong success by graduating both college- and career-ready.

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Mimi Huang, Sales Development Program Lead at Eaton, poses with students in the Career Technical Education Engineering class.

The speaker series featured Jason Ley, Global Intelligence Manager, and Mimi Huang, Sales Development Program Lead, both from Eaton’s Strategic Planning and Marketing Department, as well as Saif Rawas, Electrical Engineer from the Software Electronic Controls Department.

Each speaker shared personal anecdotes about their own experiences finding a job they were passionate about. The series encouraged students to work hard, pursue their own STEM career dreams and never give up.

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Students stop for a photo during their Eaton headquarters site visit led by Eaton’s VAMOS members.

Following the speaker series, 30 students were invited to a special industry site visit to Eaton’s Irvine campus where they kicked off the event with a career panel, featuring different departments such as Air Frame, Quality, Human Resources and Engineering. Afterwards, VAMOS members took the students on a tour of the facility where they were exposed to the impressive manufacturing floor, all while learning more about different STEM career opportunities.

Students also enjoyed one-on-one lunches with Eaton’s VAMOS employees where they had the chance to ask more questions, and connect with individuals that looked like them and came from similar backgrounds about what a career in engineering and technology might look like.

Partnerships like this are critically important to today’s young learners because they provide a chance for these students to connect directly with individuals in high-tech, high-wage STEM careers like engineering and advanced manufacturing. Most of the youth that participate in Youth Career Connections do not come from communities or families where STEM careers are represented or talked about.

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Students enjoy a career panel from Eaton employees during their site visit.

Students expressed their gratitude for this opportunity:

“It was a great experience as well as a great opportunity to see the possible branches I could be a part of,” said Andy, Los Amigos High School 11th grader.

“I’ve never been to this place before, I enjoyed being here and I wish I could come back again. I really look forward to going to college and becoming an expert in my career. I know I’ll be passionate about it,” said Bryon, Los Amigos High School 12th grader.

“Everything was perfect. I enjoyed this chance to see what engineers do and how they do it. It has showed me that I can accomplish this goal as well,” said Jacob, Santiago High School 9th grader.

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Students at Mann Elementary smile as they participate in the “Forces of Flight” hands-on STEM activity.

Making WAVEs in Aerospace

During the month of May, 11 WAVE volunteers from Eaton introduced more than 150 students to basic theories on how engineers design aircrafts. Students at Riverdale, Zeyen and Horace Mann Elementary Schools learned from Eaton engineers about how they develop and perfect aircraft designs for different flight speeds and uses.

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Students at Zeyen Elementary get ready to test their paper airplanes.

The Eaton volunteers also walked the 4th, 5th and 6th grade students through a special “Forces of Flight” activity where they had the opportunity to build their own paper airplanes. The students were thrilled to do the hands-on learning activity and to test their creations at different speeds and for different uses.

“We had an amazing time and it is a memory that will last a lifetime,” said Maggie Giesie, Senior Pricing Analyst at Eaton who coordinated the WAVE volunteer day group. “All the volunteers cannot stop talking about the experience and they are interested in doing it again.”

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Steve Sipprell, Director of Program Management at Eaton Aerospace, back left, poses for a photo during his visit to Zeyen Elementary.

The interaction and engagement from the Eaton volunteers gave students a first-hand look at what a career in the aerospace and other STEM fields would look like.

“We want to thank United Way for letting us come out to the school and teach kids about STEM,” said Michael Robinson with Eaton Irvine. “We were really impressed with how knowledgeable they were and how fun and interactive the whole experience was.”

“One of the things that I really appreciate about working with the young kids is their enthusiasm and willingness to learn new things,” said Joe Soriano, aerospace engineer at Eaton. “Their hands-on experience was very touching to me. I just wish I had that opportunity when I was their age. I would have probably been in aerospace a lot sooner.”

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The Riverdale Elementary class smiles during their on-site visit from Eaton.

Many students left feeling inspired by what they learned and eager to continue their STEM studies. Students were also delighted to receive an Eaton fidget spinner at the end of the activity.

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Mann Elementary School students get ready to test out their paper airplanes with Eaton WAVE members.

“I would like to thank Eaton and United Way for coming out and teaching our kids about STEM,” said Chris Ash, Principal of Riverdale Elementary School. “The students and teachers really enjoyed the experience. We hope to be able to enhance our students’ science and technology success throughout the year from what they learned today.”

Beyond their education-focused campaigns, Eaton leadership and employees gave more than $50,000 to United Way last year. They are also currently fundraising for a hydration station to be installed at a local school as part of our Healthy School Initiative.

Through its corporate social responsibility campaign and the many ways Eaton has joined hands with Orange County United Way over the past 20 years, it is clear that they are committed to furthering our mission and we could not be more grateful. We thank Eaton leadership, Nanda Kumar, CEO and Orange County United Way board member, and Patricia Correa, Vice President of Human Resources and member of Orange County United Way’s Campaign Cabinet, as well as coordinator’s like Gloria Mora, for instilling in their company culture a passion for giving back and positively impacting its global customers, employees and communities.

Eaton’s partnership with Orange County United Way can serve as inspiration to other local companies looking for ways to engage with their community and make a difference.

Learn More About How Your Company Can Partner with United Way

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