Hawesville Mill: Supporting STEM Education in the Community

Employees from Domtar’s Hawesville mill are proud to have supported Owensboro Community and Technical College’s (OCTC) FIRST Program since its inception in 2007. For Inspiration in Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) allows local youth the opportunity to further their education in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) while gaining important life skills.

As a non-profit started in 1989, FIRST began as an effort to get more students involved in STEM by making learning fun. Such programs are critical in states like Kentucky, which, according to the state’s STEM Imperative ranked 48th in the nation for the number of science and engineering degrees awarded in 2007.

Each year, OCTC hosts competitions where groups of students design, build, research and compete with one another, showcasing what they have learned throughout the year. Vince Somody, Maintenance Supervisor at Hawesville, laid the groundwork for the mill’s annual $2,000 sponsorship of the local OCTC Regional Competition.

Originally funded by the National Science Foundation, the FIRST program has since had to rely on community support, such as that from the Hawesville Mill, after grant money dried up in 2010. With skills learned from STEM programs becoming critical to tomorrow’s workforce, Domtar will continue support to OCTC’s FIRST program and similar initiatives.