Wayne State engineering students fueling STEM discussion, education among Michigan youth

DETROIT (March 19, 2013) – In case classes, co-ops, extracurricular activities, work and other commitments weren’t enough, a growing number of Wayne State University College of Engineering students are dedicating their free time to promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers to Michigan youth.


“There’s really no limit to what you can achieve with a STEM degree, especially in engineering or computer science,” says Norman Dotson, senior industrial and systems engineering student and president of Wayne State’s Engineering Student Faculty Board. “Our goal is to bring greater awareness to these fields and help middle and high schools students realize that they have the ability to excel.”

In the last year alone, Wayne State engineering and computer science students volunteered their time by delivering presentations, setting up booths, and giving hands-on demonstrations at regional events such as Yes!Expo and international events like FIRST Robotics.

“More than 19,000 students in grades 8-12 registered for the Yes!Expo in November. More than 70 Wayne State College of Engineering students volunteered for the event. I was so proud of our passionate and engaged students. The excitement was contagious,” Dotson says.

Wayne State engineering and computer science students have played significant roles in the Detroit-Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP), WSU’s Gaining Options-Girls Investigate Real Life (GO-GIRL) program, the Michigan Department of Transportation Youth Development and Mentoring Program (MDOT YDMP) and with the Department of Computer Science’s summer camps.

They also plan their own STEM-focused events. Take, for instance, an event in which civil engineering students introduced basic engineering concepts to area youth at the Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED) Youth Center in southwest Detroit. Or, a recent event called FutureSWE, which was planned entirely by the Wayne State chapter of the Society of Women Engineers during National Engineers Week.

“We welcomed more than 65 male and female high school students to campus to learn more about the many different fields of engineering,” said Aliya Jawad, SWE community outreach coordinator. “Nearly 50 current Wayne State engineering and computer science students volunteered at the event, which featured a talk by Professor Sandro da Rocha, activities and lab tours.”

Engineers Week at Wayne State also featured an educational event by the Institute of Industrial Engineers’ student chapter that introduced Chandler Park High School students to engineering and an EcoCAR 2 presentation and garage tour that allowed attendees to learn about the project and competition.

“Our students are outstanding,” says Wayne State College of Engineering Dean Farshad Fotouhi. “They are energetic, intelligent and incredibly motivated. Their ability to connect with and educate area youth is remarkable. We are grateful to them for their continued efforts.”

“We’re excited about engineering and computer science. We want to spread the word,” says electrical engineering student Garrett Yee, whose engineering rap video, “Major Problems,” debuted at the February FutureSWE event. “Engineers aren't just hard workers; we know how to have fun too. I got some other members of the college together to shoot a music video promoting engineering. We had a great time and hopefully sparked an interest among youth in Michigan and beyond.”

More images are available on the College of Engineering's Flickr site.

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Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit engineering.wayne.edu.

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