Press releases

Deloitte Convenes AWS, Ballmer Group, Elenco, National Math & Science Initiative, Siemens and Wichita State University to Advance STEM Education for Students in Underserved Communities

Deloitte’s Smart Factory Believers program deploys Smart Rover kits, curriculum and teacher training to schools to help close the education equity gap and develop the STEM manufacturing workforce of tomorrow

NEW YORK, Oct. 18, 2023 — 

  • Key takeaways
    Program is active in 75+ U.S. middle and high schools; more than 2,230 rover kits have impacted 10,000+ students, with plans for national expansion.
  • Ecosystem of top organizations and educational institutions come together to enhance learning opportunities and provide new pathways to children who may not otherwise have access to robust STEM resources.
  • First year of Believers has shown to increase student interest in STEM: Students in the Believers program reported they enjoyed engaging in hands-on learning (70%), programming (60%) and working with technology (60%).

Deloitte today announced that it has assembled an ecosystem of changemakers to bring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to middle and high school students in underserved communities across the U.S. through a new program, Smart Factory Believers. Together with AWS, Ballmer Group, Elenco Electronics, National Math & Science Initiative (NMSI), Siemens Digital Industries Software and Wichita State University (WSU), Deloitte aims to create high-quality STEM education programs for students in diverse and underserved communities.

Smart Factory Believers is the purpose-driven education and skills program created for The Smart Factory @ Wichita, Deloitte’s U.S. immersive experience center and proving ground for next-generation, digitally-driven manufacturing — located on WSU’s Innovation Campus. The program is designed to help remove systemic barriers that prevent students from accessing STEM learning and empower teachers with the skills needed to provide education for students that help them visualize and achieve jobs in the manufacturing industry. The Smart Factory Believers program is an extension of Deloitte's own purpose to build pathways of opportunity and create an equitable workforce of the future.

Why this matters: Talent, instructional and access gaps
There is a critical gap between the technology and manufacturing jobs that need to be filled and the talent pool able to fill them. According to a “Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute” report, this skills gap may leave 2.4 million manufacturing jobs unfilled between 2018 and 2028. At the same time, Deloitte research shows that only 10% of the manufacturing workforce identifies as a minority, and the National Science Foundation reports that less than one-quarter of the Black (18%) and Hispanic (20%) workforce have careers in a STEM field. Further, according to America Succeeds, financially disadvantaged and minority students are less likely to have access to high-quality STEM resources.

The Deloitte-led Smart Factory Believers program creates an opportunity to bring together these gaps in access to STEM resources and instruction by facilitating equitable access to education, teacher training and driving interest in STEM careers — particularly those in manufacturing — to help resolve the workforce shortage and inspire the next generation of diverse talent to engineer the future.

Smart Factory Believers: Diversity in the workforce starts in the classroom
The Believers program provides students and teachers in Title I-eligible schools with hands-on resources, including Smart Rover kits, a customized version of Elenco's popular Snap Circuits® R/C Snap Rover educational vehicle building kit, a culturally responsive curriculum and robust educator training to give students a hands-on way to learn how to build, code and operate a fully functioning mobile robot. Once students build the Smart Rover, they can follow guided project challenges and lessons from the NMSI curriculum to power it using electrical circuits. The curriculum also helps them apply Python coding language to program their robot to complete various tasks, including autonomous driving and image detection. The program provides schools with math and science materials aligned to Common Core standards, teacher lesson plans, student guides, video modules and all the technology accessories required for the projects.

The Smart Rover is assembled and shipped from Deloitte’s Smart Factory @ Wichita

The Believers program is active in 75+ middle and high schools in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C. and will continue to expand in 2023. Since it was established, the Believers program has distributed over 2,250 Rover kits, which have impacted over 10,000 students to date, 83% of whom are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches, and 89% of whom identify as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian. The initial results as of June 2023 show that the Believers program has:

  • Increased student interest in STEM: Students in the Believers program reported they enjoyed engaging in hands-on learning (70%), programming (60%), and working with technology (60%).
  • Encouraged new paths for student leadership and peer engagement: As a result of the program, more than half (53%) of teachers report that their students have become more autonomous and collaborative.
  • Helped 100% of educators trained via the program achieve STEM Common Core standards in a new way.

An ecosystem of changemakers

The Smart Factory @ Wichita team shipping a new batch of kits to students in September 2023

The Believers program is convened, led and funded by Deloitte and powered by a collaboration of world-leading organizations including: AWS sponsors shipping, warehousing, logistics and last-mile delivery of the Smart Rover kits; Ballmer Group has stepped forward as a community and funding partner to launch the program in Southeast Michigan; Elenco Electronics, whose commercially available Snap Circuits® R/C Snap Rover kit is the foundation for the Smart Rover kit produced at The Smart Factory @ Wichita; The National Math + Science Initiative designed the program’s curriculum, school activation materials and provides educators with ongoing professional development opportunities; Siemens Digital Industries Software offers career engagement for participating students; and Wichita State University translates curriculum materials into Spanish and WSU students are helping innovate upgrades to the Smart Rover.

Believers in action: Wayne-Westland Community School District
One of the first groups of students to experience the program are high schoolers from the Wayne-Westland Community School District in the Detroit metropolitan area. Inspired by the curriculum and work they completed through the Believers program, students were able to bridge the gap between novice and experienced programming and further their understanding of the mechanics of robotics construction. This enabled the students to take their STEM skills to the next level: They qualified and competed against other schools at a national level at the 2023 FIRST Robotics Championship, where they placed 65 out of 77 teams and received a Safety award from a peer team, and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion award for the diversity of their team.

Key quotes
“When we built The Smart Factory @ Wichita, we wanted to use The Factory floor production line to make a product with purpose — thus the inception of the Smart Factory Believers program. Like The Smart Factory itself, the Believers program is made up of a community of top organizations to make meaningful progress in creating new pathways to STEM education and equity, while igniting a passion for areas that students may have not yet explored. We hope that the Believers program will make a lasting impact that matters: I personally cannot wait for the moment when I meet a person in the manufacturing workforce that is there because the Believers program sparked new areas of creativity and interest for them.”
Michael Gretczko
Smart Factory Believers program executive sponsor, and principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

"Empowering teachers as the architects of our educational landscape is at the heart of the Smart Factory Believers Program. I firmly believe that the integration of STEM skills and practices across our curriculum, as seen in how students and teachers engage with the Smart Rover, is not only pivotal but transformative in shaping the future of our students. We recognize that the true potential of STEM lies in its interdisciplinary nature, and we are dedicated to providing our educators with the tools and support they need through quality professional development practices. By fostering this holistic approach in our work with the Smart Factory Believers Program, we aim to elevate STEM literacy for every student, nurturing a generation of curious minds prepared to excel in an ever-evolving world. We are proud to be Believers with Deloitte and our other industry and education partners in bringing STEM to life for more students."
— Michelle Stie
Vice president of Program Design and Innovation, National Math and Science Initiative

“Siemens is proud to be part of Deloitte's visionary Smart Factory Believers program, furthering our commitment to advanced manufacturing. Our dedication isn't just about providing the supporting technologies; it's about building the workforce of tomorrow and shaping more equitable communities. Together, we're ensuring that the promise of STEM education, and the opportunities it unlocks, is accessible to everyone."
— Barbara Humpton
President and CEO of Siemens USA

“Nothing prepared us for the immediate impact of the Smart Factory Believers program. With the Smart Rovers, curriculum and training provided, we’ve seen our students bridge the gap between novice and experienced programming, as well as build a greater understanding of the mechanics of robotics. Due to their experiences with Believers, several of our high school students were able to build the skills needed to compete in their first FIRST Robotics competition this year. We look forward to continuing to extend the Believers program to students at all levels to enhance our coding, Math and STEM curriculum and provide them with opportunities to help explore new career pathways in the future.”
— Dr. Adrienne Nathan
Director of Community Partnerships and Outreach, Wayne-Westland Community Schools

“Deloitte’s The Smart Factory @ Wichita is a collaborator in Wichita State University’s mission to be an essential educational, cultural and economic driver for Kansas and the greater public good. The Smart Factory @ Wichita provides applied learning opportunities for Wichita State students and contributes to the university’s distinctive value of knowledge creation and dynamic educational opportunities.”
— Tonya Witherspoon
Associate vice president for Industry Engagement & Applied Learning, Wichita State University

Learn more and become a Believer
In addition to the Smart Factory Believers program’s U.S. initiatives, Deloitte is inaugurating similar STEM projects in the growing network of Deloitte Smart Factory experience centers across the globe. To learn more about the Smart Factory Believers program or to inquire about participating, visit our website.

Connect with us on X at @SmartFactoryX or on LinkedIn @Deloitte.

About Deloitte
Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including nearly 90% of the Fortune 500® and more than 8,500 U.S.-based private companies. At Deloitte, we strive to live our purpose of making an impact that matters by creating trust and confidence in a more equitable society. We leverage our unique blend of business acumen, command of technology, and strategic technology alliances to advise our clients across industries as they build their future. Deloitte is proud to be part of the largest global professional services network serving our clients in the markets that are most important to them. Bringing more than 175 years of service, our network of member firms spans more than 150 countries and territories. Learn how Deloitte’s approximately 457,000 people worldwide connect for impact at


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Alison Cizowski
Public Relations
Deloitte Services LP
+1 781 820 2527

Imara Bright-Johnson
Public Relations
Deloitte Services LP
+1 313 396 2914

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