Cat sponsors regional AEM Construction Challenge rallies

Caterpillar Inc. has signed on as a major sponsor of the 2011 Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Construction Challenge presented by Volvo Construction Equipment.

Caterpillar Inc. is sponsoring four of the nine regional rallies taking place on Jan. 15, 2011.

Caterpillar Inc. is sponsoring AEM Construction Challenge regional rallies in Atlanta, Ga.; Chicago; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Seattle. Thousands of students will compete on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, for the opportunity to advance to the final competition in Las Vegas.

The top 24 student teams chosen from the nine regional rallies being held across the United States and in Canada will compete in the finals in front of the estimated 100,000-plus audience at CONEXPO-CON/AGG, to be held March 22-26, 2011 in Las Vegas.

“Caterpillar is proud to support AEM’s Construction Challenge again this year,” said Tana Utley, chief technology officer of Caterpillar Inc., in a written statement. “The 2011 projects — transportation and water infrastructure development — will introduce students to many of the issues our industry faces as we endeavor to improve quality of life in global communities. What better way to get young people excited about the opportunities that exist in construction and engineering than to provide them with hands-on experience.”

AEM initiated the Construction Challenge as an opportunity for students, teachers, parents and community leaders to learn more about rewarding construction careers and the vital role the industry plays in creating and maintaining a high quality of life around the world.

“The 2011 Construction Challenge is shaping up to be the best yet, and we are looking forward to its return to CONEXPO-CON/AGG. There is not a better place for these students to learn about the scope and importance of the construction industry to the economic health of the U.S. economy,” stated Dennis Slater, AEM president, in a press release. “Caterpillar’s sponsorship helps ensure that the Challenge program will continue to introduce thousands of young people to construction career opportunities.”

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Despite recent job losses, the construction sector still faces a severe shortage of qualified workers to meet future needs, including massive infrastructure repair and maintenance, according to AEM.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the construction industry needs to attract 240,000 workers each year to replace those leaving the industry and to allow for growth. By 2020 manufacturing overall faces a skilled worker shortage of 13 million15 million with no growth in the 18-26-year-old age group, AEM says.

Since its inception, the AEM Construction Challenge has directly engaged over 10,000 middle and high school students across North America, and the program and its messages have made an impression on more than 18 million students on a global level, according to the association. Nearly 70 percent of Challenge participants said they are now considering a construction career, according to AEM.

For the Challenge, AEM partners with the global creativity organization Destination ImagiNation, known for programs that foster creative problem solving through hands-on teamwork. A construction-themed program is an integral part of DI’s core program, culminating in a yearly global finals competition. The triennial CONEXPO-CON/AGG exposition hosts a special edition of the AEM Construction Challenge in show years, to provide students with even more exposure to the construction industry. AEM is show producer and a show owner.

To get involved in the AEM Construction Challenge, including sponsorship opportunities, contact AEM’s David Bannister at [email protected] or 414-274-0657.