This post contains a challenge for us all. I know that many companies, perhaps most, have a corporate responsibility leader and participates in some beneficial activities beyond the merely self-serving gifts. NI (formerly National Instruments) has had a vision for the advancement of engineering and public good for as long as I’ve known it. Current CEO Eric Starkloff is building on the legacy of co-founder and retired CEO Jim Truchard leading by example.

I received this “Note from NI” the other day. It is powerful enough that I thought I’d share. Perhaps we can all gain some insights and spur our innovative nature from these ideas.

Engineering Hope for a Better World

In 2020 we made our mission clear: empower engineers to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges. And while we’ve always been quietly but diligently dedicated corporate citizens, we’re facing many challenges as a society, from climate change to racial and economic inequality. And the time to be bold is now. This is why we’ve launched Engineering Hope, our 2030 Corporate Impact Strategy.

Our aspirational 2030 impact goals and commitments outline how NI will put our company, people, and products to work to make a positive impact on society and our planet. Simply put, it outlines how we’ll drive the positive change we want to see in the world – engineering can, and should, play a pivotal role in addressing the biggest challenges we collectively face today. We designed our Impact Strategy to be iterative and to scale with our business and industry. Some are moonshot goals that will challenge us to think well beyond current paradigms. And all are informed by the priorities of our stakeholders, a thorough analysis of which issues are material to our business, and the realities we see in the marketplace. We’ll work diligently to achieve our goals by 2030 and will transparently report our progress each year. As our CEO Eric Starkloff says, “if we can send rockets into space, we can achieve Zero Waste.”

What We’ve Been Up To

We got to work right out of the gate in 2021. In the first quarter, we joined OpenRF to help tackle 5G ecosystem interoperability issues and partnered with MaxLinear to simplify validation of wideband power amplifiers. In alignment with our Engineering Hope 2030 Corporate Impact Strategy goals, we partnered with Project Lead the Way to increase access to STEM education, worked with the Texas Rocket Engineering Lab at the University of Texas to prepare students for future space flight, and collaborated with Code2College to help build equitable pathways to STEM careers. The mentoring and hands-on internship component of the program directly addresses systemic underrepresentation in STEM professions. A recent study that surveyed over 550 engineering and computer science students found a key driver of the gender pay gaps is associated with self-efficacy or a confidence gap. Researchers highlighted the importance of mentoring and internships to strengthen students’ self-assessments and provide stronger bridges to engineering jobs with higher pay. Programs like Code2College help students discover their potential and the limitless opportunities that exist in STEM fields.

Check out the links below for a few more details on what we worked on over the last few months:

  • We joined OpenRF and will chair the OpenRF Compliance Working Group to address interoperability issues facing the 5G ecosystem.
  • We worked with the Texas Rocket Engineering Lab at the University of Texas to prepare students for a new era of human spaceflight through hands-on projects in rocketry and aerospace.
  • We partnered with MaxLinear to simplify the validation of wideband power amplifiers for 5G networks.
  • We announced a 10-year strategy, Engineering Hope, aimed at advancing diversity, sustainability, and equity in engineering.
  • We partnered with Project Lead the Way to increase access to STEM education in underrepresented and underserved students in Central Texas.
  • We collaborated with Code2College on their work to develop a pipeline of diverse tech talent.

At NI, we believe Engineering Ambitiously and Engineering Hope go hand-in-hand. And our 2030 Corporate Impact Strategy goals reflect as much. Through our commitment to our Impact Strategy, we are putting our company, people, and products to work to positively impact our society and planet — a commitment we do not take lightly. We voluntarily set goals informed by the priorities of our stakeholders, that reflect the realities we see in the marketplace, and represent a thorough analysis of the issues material to our business. 

We are dedicated to achieving our goals by 2030 and will transparently report our progress each year. Through our partnerships with suppliers, customers, governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations, we’ll harness the power of NI’s operations philanthropy to focus on three pillars of impact:

  • Changing the faces of engineering. Building a diverse and inclusive workforce is the right thing to do for NI, our industry, and society. But the diversity of the engineering talent pipeline hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years. In fact, the global technology sector is projected to have a shortage of 4.3 million workers by 2030. Attracting more diverse people to our industry helps us keep up with this growth while providing more equitable access to high-paying jobs. We’ll work towards this vision by increasing our workforce diversity and supporting aspiring engineers through STEM education initiatives, expanded recruitment strategies, and talent acquisition and diversity leadership programs.
  • Building an equitable and thriving society. Over time, inequalities in our systems and institutions decrease the well-being of our entire society. We envision a thriving society with fewer economic, racial, and gender inequalities and greater wellbeing and prosperity for all. Our work will begin within NI by cultivating an equitable and thriving workforce through total rewards redesigns, wellbeing programs, and ongoing employee engagement initiatives. We’ll also advance diversity within our own supply chain, and by changing the faces of engineering, we’ll increase access to higher-paying technology.
  • Engineering a healthy planet. Healthy and biodiverse ecosystems are critical to human wellbeing. We envision a world where industries and governments work together to protect and repair ecosystems and stabilize our climate by mitigating rising temperatures. We’ll do our part to reach this vision by reducing the environmental impact of NI’s operations and products, and in doing so, reduce our footprint and help our customers do the same. Each year through 2030, we’ll discount or donate NI products to organizations developing green technology, will design 100% of our new buildings or remodels to LEED and WELL standards, reduce our footprint, and make circular design improvements in our product design, manufacturing, and packaging. And by 2030, we will achieve Zero Waste at NI-owned buildings.
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