Photo courtesy of Honeywell

Honeywell International, Inc. (Honeywell) announced that it would be donating a total of $25,000 to three Tech student initiatives: $10,000 to the OMED program, $10,000 to Women in Engineering and $5,000 to the RoboJackets robotics club.

Honeywell’s Vice President of Technology Solutions, Bruce Calder, indicated in an interview that part of the purpose of these donations was to establish a recruiting pipeline from Tech in part due to their new software laboratory, being built in Atlanta.

“We went through quite a detailed process to come up with the city that we wanted to put our software development center in. We’re creating Honeywell’s next-generation software offerings, led out of this site,” Calder said. “We chose Atlanta because of the talent that we think we can tap into in Atlanta with the colleges and universities that are nearby. Specifically, Georgia Tech is such a big, important university for us to engage with.”

The Atlanta-based facility was first announced on Sept. 16, 2016. During a press briefing about the software center, Krishna Mikkilineni, Honeywell senior vice president of engineering, operations and IT, spoke about Honeywell’s software solutions, saying that they “develop some of the world’s most sophisticated software-based products and solutions that play a major role in the Internet of Things, helping airplanes, automobiles, buildings, homes, industrial plants, warehouses and workers stay connected, safe, productive and secure.

“Atlanta offers us access to some of the brightest and most innovative software talent in the U.S.  At Honeywell, these engineers will have the opportunity to develop new solutions and offerings that impact industries, improve quality of life, and truly change the world.”

Calder indicated that the groups which received funding were selected to raise student awareness of Honeywell and its software division by participating in student initiatives, saying that they “met with students from Georgia Tech and realized that many of them had not even heard of Honeywell before.”

“Therefore, they’re not going to be inclined to engage with us for opportunities, internships and so on … The best way [to get students engaged], I think, is to really get involved in specific initiatives and student groups that Georgia Tech has going,” Calder said.

Honeywell emphasized both in the interview and through social media that the $25,000 worth of funding is “not a one-shot.”

Calder further elaborated on Honeywell’s ongoing strategy for engagement at Tech, saying that the company will be sending representatives to the groups provided with funding and measuring the success of their current efforts to recruit and engage students to help determine whether or not to launch future initiatives on Tech’s campus.

Honeywell also pointed out the necessity of a long-term relationship with Tech in order to fulfill its long-term goals of recruiting students to their software opportunities, particularly in their new Atlanta location.

“I think we’ll get great results out of this. I think we’ve all of a sudden had a huge interest in internships in Honeywell. … If we think it’s successful, we’re going to expand, absolutely. It is a long-term commitment,” said Calder. “Developing a relationship with a university for a talent pipeline takes at least 3 years to get off the ground.”

Part of Honeywell’s strategy appeared to be forms of viral marketing through social media and the student body. On Feb. 1, the Reddit account /u/honeywellatl posted to the Tech reddit community, /r/gatech, announcing its donation to Tech and responding to some user comments posted on their original announcement. Calder mentioned a similar strategy they hoped would result from their donations to RoboJackets, WIE and OMED, saying that “it’s the networking between the students themselves that we’re hoping to get to go viral.”

“If we can engage with a few key students, get them really interested in what we’re doing, bring them in for internships … we want them to go back and tell their friends,” Calder said. “Our approach here is to educate more people about that ‘wow’ moment — to have that ‘wow’ moment and then seek us out for a job. That’s what’s not happening right now, because people think of us as a 125-year-old manufacturing company.

“We’re really a company that half our engineers are focused on software. We have software that goes into products people use every single day and they don’t realize it.”

When asked about Honeywell’s plans for career fairs on campus, Calder said that “[Honeywell is] just getting into this, so we’re taking pictures of what other companies are doing and coming back.”

Calder also explained how Honeywell is trying to establish the same kind of presence at the fairs as companies such as Microsoft and Google to gain more engagement from students interested in software opportunities.

The new Atlanta software center will be located at 715 Peachtree Street in Midtown, per Cody Nichelson of Jackson Spalding, who represents Honeywell in press relations.