Deloitte’s Smart Factory Believers Program empowers next-generation STEM learning at District of Columbia Public Schools with support from Amazon Web Services

by Amazon Web Services Public Sector Blog Team | on

Integrating science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into K12 education that teaches skills-based learning with real-world applications can help students develop critical thinking skills. As we shape the next generation of innovators, dynamic STEM education goes beyond advancing math and science competencies—it helps students build confidence and problem-solving capabilities in a hands-on learning environment.

There is a continuing global shortage of STEM talent and many communities in the US do not have equal access to high-quality STEM education. According to America Succeeds , financially disadvantaged and minority students are less likely to have access to high-quality STEM resources. Deloitte saw an opportunity to help inspire the next generation of manufacturing and engineering talent through a new program: Smart Factory Believers.

The Smart Factory Believers program was started by Deloitte at The Smart Factory @ Wichita , which is a smart manufacturing experience center that brings together an ecosystem of more than 20 organizations to help companies learn about and test advanced manufacturing strategies, techniques, and cutting-edge technologies on a real shop floor. The Believers program was established as The Smart Factory @ Wichita’s purpose mission and is a collaborative initiative that brings together world-leading organizations, including Amazon Web Services (Amazon Web Services), Elenco Electronics, the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), and others, to help foster new learning opportunities for middle school-aged children in underserved communities. The Believers program intends to facilitate equitable access to STEM education and drive interest in STEM careers—particularly those in manufacturing. Schools selected for the program receive STEM robotics kits, a standards-based math and science curriculum developed by NMSI, and full-cycle teacher training and coaching.

“As manufacturers continue to struggle with workforce shortages—according to Deloitte research , a skills gap could leave 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028—it is clear that there is a growing talent gap in critical STEM-focused areas. In addition, the US National Science Foundation reports that only 23% of the STEM workforce is represented by underrepresented groups,” said Nishita Henry, global chief commercial officer for the Deloitte/Amazon alliance at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “At Deloitte, we are committed to making an impact that matters in creating a more equitable workforce and see our Smart Factory Believers program as a transformative mechanism to help remove barriers to opportunity for students, especially those in underserved communities. We believe that growing diversity in STEM fields is critically important and giving students exposure to the possibilities of STEM and innovation-focused careers will help build a stronger workforce of the future.”

At this year’s Amazon Web Services Summit in Washington DC, Deloitte and Amazon Web Services announced an expansion of the program to the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Deloitte and Amazon Web Services will donate 30 STEM robotics kits, along with the standards-based math and science curriculum and holistic teacher training and coaching, to McKinley Middle School, the first STEM-focused middle school in DCPS. From there, the program will incorporate more middle schools and expand into high schools within the greater DC area. Within the next three years, Smart Factory Believers aims to impact more than 1,600 students in the DC metro area.

Produced on a state-of-the-art production line at The Smart Factory @ Wichita, the Smart Rover is the centerpiece of the STEM kit that students receive as part of the Smart Factory Believers program. The Smart Rover incorporates Elenco’s award-winning Snap Circuit kits, the Snap Rover, with a Raspberry Pi microcomputer and camera module to educate middle school students on circuitry, coding, and robotics. Amazon leverages its vast distribution operations to deliver the kits. Through this program, students receive an introduction to programming, where they learn to code, debug, and test their creations. The kits also promote “soft skills” such as collaboration, documentation, problem-solving, and troubleshooting. Since its official launch in October 2022, the program has donated over 1,100 kits, impacting 3,700 students and teachers in Atlanta, Dallas, Clovis (New Mexico), Detroit, Philadelphia, and Wichita to date, with a goal to scale impact and foster long-term systemic change in STEM education.

“The same technology that brings mobile banking to our fingertips, speeds medical discoveries to save lives, and is now pioneering the future of manufacturing, can be used to transform teaching and learning,” said Kim Majerus, vice president of global education and US state and local government at Amazon Web Services. “At Amazon Web Services, we are committed to working with K12 schools and higher education institutions to improve student outcomes, enhance learning environments, and build the next generation tech workforce. We are excited to join Deloitte in increasing access to innovative STEM education to help students explore new skills.”

The Smart Factory @ Wichita is located on Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus and is powered by a robust ecosystem of leading organizations made up of technologists, innovators, and academics. Amazon Web Services is a Founder-level member of The Smart Factory ecosystem , and Amazon Web Services’s technology such as machine learning and advanced analytics are used in The Factory to enable machine-to-machine communications, allowing for an integrated “factory floor” that’s agile and informed. The Smart Factory is designed to pioneer new strategies to digitally transform the manufacturing industry and is also supported by the Amazon Web Services Cloud Innovation Center ( CIC ) program, which helps public sector organizations collaborate, test new ideas, and access Amazon Web Services technology expertise to solve real world problems.

Innovative centers such as The Smart Factory will only progress if leaders have the right technical talent to continue to build and scale new digital capabilities. The Smart Factory Believers program aims to help students gain interest in developing those skills earlier and increase access to high-impact STEM education that can lead to rewarding careers.

To get involved as a collaborator or learn more about the Smart Factory Believers program, visit Deloitte’s website . For more information on how Amazon Web Services is convening public and private sector organizations to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges, visit Amazon Web Services Cloud Innovation Centers.

Read related stories on the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Blog:

  • STEAM-empowered: Amazon Web Services launches new skills and education programs to inspire cloud-curious students and empower girls, women across Virginia and beyond
  • Students work backwards to help society identify truth versus disinformation
  • How students help modernize rocket launches at the Western Range with the Amazon Web Services Cloud
  • Study Edge and ASU use Amazon Web Services to offer accessible and equitable education video experiences to students
  • Improving virtual education, economic research, and environmental data: The latest from Amazon Web Services CICs

Subscribe to the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Blog newsletter to get the latest in Amazon Web Services tools, solutions, and innovations from the public sector delivered to your inbox, or contact us .

Please take a few minutes to share insights regarding your experience with the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Blog in this survey , and we’ll use feedback from the survey to create more content aligned with the preferences of our readers.