BNSF Railway Vice President Technology Services and Chief Information Officer Jo-ann Olsovsky, center, participates in a roundtable discussion hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in Washington, D.C. on April 7. Olsovsky is an advocate for encouraging minorities and women to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields. She described BNSF’s growing need for technically skilled employees and its efforts to hire a diverse technical workforce. These include joint programs with schools and universities and Technology Awareness Day, an annual event on the BNSF headquarters campus designed to spark interest in technical careers among high school students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“The question persists: Where and how is America going to identify and prepare the talent to fill the need for technology based professions? Investing in and developing strong math and science talent in America’s youth is paramount to our ability to innovate for years to come,” Olsovsky said. “We understand the importance of finding answers to this question. From our perspective, those answers will help strengthen and advance America’s transportation industry as well as all others, which is vital to our nation’s global prominence. “
Later the same day, BNSF Mechanical Foreman Oscar Vazquez spoke to a group of students and educators from the Washington, D.C. area. Vazquez was one of four resourceful high school students who won a 2004 national underwater robotics competition against the odds, beating out major universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The group was treated to a screening of Underwater Dreams, a documentary film about the competition. The story is also retold in the feature film Spare Parts, starring George Lopez and Jamie Lee Curtis, released in January.
BNSF employee Oscar Vazquez speaks to students and educators from the Washington, D.C. area at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on April 7.
BNSF Vice President Technology Services and Chief Information Officer Jo-ann Olsovsky listens during discussions at the Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.
From left to right, Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; Richard Voyles, assistant director for Robotics and Cyber-Physical Systems, Office of Science and Technology Policy; Oscar Vazquez, mechanical foreman at BNSF Railway; and Joe Faust, regional public affairs director at BNSF Railway.