Dawne Hickton - RTI International Metals
Vice Chairman and CEO
Dawne Hickton is Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of RTI International Metals, Inc., one of the world’s largest producers of advanced titanium products used in technologically sophisticated applications in the commercial aerospace, defense, propulsion, medical devices, energy, industrial and chemical markets. Ms. Hickton has been a member of RTI’s board since 2007.
Ms. Hickton has over 20 years of diversified metals experience, including 10+ years in the titanium industry spanning several business cycles.
She serves on the Executive Committee of the Aerospace Industries Association and is a director of public, private and educational institutions.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
STEM education is critical to maintaining the United State’s standing as a global leader in innovation and to our ability to meet future workforce demands. We are one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world yet we are losing ground in the global talent war. Due to significant gaps in the U.S. educational system, we are not adequately preparing today’s high school and college students to meet the growing demand for technologically skilled workers. I believe our commitment to STEM Education can fill this gap and ensure that the United States remains a global innovator.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
Supporting and advancing STEM is a long-term challenge. The most important trait senior leaders need to meet that challenge is commitment. We must be committed over the long haul to developing and promoting practical and meaningful resources for students pursuing STEM careers. That means supporting rigorous math and science classes and offering internships, mentoring and scholarships - particularly for women and minorities who make up a smaller percentage of college students and the STEM workforce.
And our commitment doesn’t end in the classroom. We must commit to developing and providing meaningful opportunities for STEM students and employees to hone their skills and advance their careers. RTI has apprenticeship, co-op engineering and internship programs for students while attending college; and a defined technical career track for employees once they join the company.
Of what one initiative are you most proud?
For more than 10 years and before STEM, RTI has focused on efforts to build a robust pipeline of engineering and technology talent for future job openings. One successful initiative we’ve had is through a partnership with a regional university in Ohio, Youngstown State. At the onset of the partnership, Youngstown State students were offered internships or became an employee at one of our Ohio facilities. The partnership has progressed to many other initiatives, most notably RTI employees have: (a) served as advisers in the design of the PhD Material Science and Engineering curriculum; (b) served as mentors and sponsors of the school, the professors and the students; (c) served as judges on competitive programs that recognize the technical and professional skills and achievements of the students; and (d) hosted tours of its Niles, Ohio facility for both professors and students. An RTI-nominated STEM student recently won a $2500 scholarship from the International Titanium Association.
We’ve also partnered with top engineering schools such as Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Ohio State University, and the University of Pittsburgh to offer internships and to hire talented STEM graduates.
How is your company innovating to promote STEM?
RTI has committed the time and talents of some of our top executives to the task of developing new ways to promote STEM. Our Executive Vice President of Technology and Innovation, Steve Giangiordano, serves on the AIA’s STEM steering committee and has worked informally to “adopt” and mentor local high school physics students. Our Chief Human Resources Officer, Jeff Smith, serves on the AIA’s STEM Workforce Committee seeking innovative ways to grow the STEM workforce.
RTI focuses on communicating with and educating its workforce about STEM. Regularly, STEM-related articles are written and posted on the company’s intranet site or mailed to employees’ homes. These articles keep employees and their families informed, and the visibility can attract their family members or friends to the STEM profession. STEM career interests can develop in many ways, and our goal is to ignite that interest.