Vermeer scholars exhibit capstone projects

The first cohort of the Vermeer International Leadership Program participated in a spring exhibition event on April 18. The event was hosted by the Vermeer Corp. and Vermeer family at the Vermeer Applied Technology Hub, a new facility located at the Iowa State University Research Park.

The VILP is a unique scholarship program that takes Iowa State University students beyond the classroom to better understand global challenges – such as clean drinking water, poverty and food insecurity – and the impact for international corporations. The program is made possible by the generous support of the Vermeer Corp., a global industrial and agricultural equipment company with headquarters in Pella, Iowa.

The spring exhibition event allowed students to showcase their leadership capstone projects through a poster session. Attendees at the event included members of the Vermeer Corp. leadership team; the Vermeer family; and Iowa State University administrators, including Beate Schmittmann, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Mike Crum, vice president of economic development and industry relations.

Three students from the inaugural cohort of the program shared their reflections and experiences of the past year as participants in the program.

Madison Abel, a sophomore in supply chain management, shared how the program allowed her to travel internationally for the first time and learn the operations of a global corporation from multiple perspectives. Carter Kemmet, a junior in statistics, highlighted how learning different styles and strategies of leadership has supported him in his own leadership development. Francis Kelly, a junior in mechanical engineering, offered words of encouragement to the incoming cohort of students to take advantage of this opportunity and continue to learn inside and outside of the classroom through the Vermeer International Leadership Program.

Madison Abel, center, shares her reflections on her participation in the Vermeer International Leadership Program at the Spring Exhibition Event.
Madison Abel, center, shares her reflections on her participation in the Vermeer International Leadership Program at the spring exhibition event.

Schmittmann thanked Mary Andringa, past CEO and chair of the board of directors at Vermeer Corp.; Jason Andringa, president and CEO of Vermeer Corp.; Sara Hunter, coordinator of Iowa State University relations for Vermeer Corp.; and the many others at Vermeer for their strong support of the program and having the vision to establish this opportunity for Iowa State students. “Your increased engagement on campus continues to make the student experience at Iowa State meaningful,” she said.

Beyond the classroom, participants in the VILP cohort engaged in addressing a global challenge. During the fall semester, students traveled to the Vermeer Corp. headquarters in Pella to learn how companies operate on an international scale, interviewed employees at multiple levels of the company and participated in leadership-in-practice case studies. Over winter break, the students traveled to the Netherlands to visit Vermeer facilities in Goes, Lely headquarters in Maassluis and the Hague and tour Amsterdam. In the spring semester, the students built capstone projects to address local and campus leadership issues.

“This is an exciting new way for us to contribute to the development of future leaders in the state of Iowa and beyond,” said Mary Andringa, who opened the spring exhibition exhibit program with a welcome. “We look forward to engaging with the students both on campus and during their trip abroad at our international facilities.”

A new cohort of students will participate every year over the four years of the program. All full-time Iowa State students are eligible to apply. Students are selected through an application and interview process, with priority given to students who have an interest in engineering, business or agriculture with at least two academic years left in their plan of study. The 2016-2017 cohort will have 20 students from a variety of majors across campus.

Vermeer’s financial support for the program provides each student selected with a travel stipend for their international experience; a $2,000 academic year scholarship; and a variety of leadership opportunities including retreats, workshops, and networking with Vermeer and Iowa State leaders. The students selected also take one leadership course together in the fall and spring semesters.