ISE student uses education to manage roles, impact Detroit

DETROIT (Dec. 5, 2012) – Norman Dotson’s various roles as dedicated Detroit advocate, skilled engineer, innovative entrepreneur, ambitious leader, supportive mentor and focused student would leave many people feeling completely overwhelmed.


Fortunately, he is more than up for the challenge thanks to his deep-rooted passion for Detroit and his process-oriented engineering education from Wayne State University.

The industrial and systems engineering (ISE) senior and Detroit native infuses his education into all facets of his life to help him more efficiently manage his numerous roles and projects.

“My ISE education has completely impacted how I think. I see everything as a process now, and I wonder how I can improve it,” he said.

Take, for instance, his role as an advocate for the city of Detroit. He’s been a spirited city supporter since he was just 12 years old, encouraging community service and involvement by regularly speaking at area elementary, middle and high schools.

While his speaking engagements proved successful – so much so that a generous benefactor provided him with scholarship money to attend Cranbrook Schools – he now thinks bigger. He and a fellow Cranbrook alumna manage, a crowdfunding website aimed at doing social good in Detroit and Chicago.

“ClickTheCause recently helped Kids Kicking Cancer, a Detroit nonprofit that helps use martial arts therapy to help empower kids with cancer, buy martial arts uniforms,” he said. “Some other projects we’re still trying to help fund involve bringing STEM programs into Detroit elementary school classrooms, providing continuous shelter services for young women, and assisting teens who have aged out of the foster care system. 

“There’s so much that can be done, and ClickTheCause allows more people to have a greater impact on a greater number of initiatives and programs.”

And that’s only one of his many projects. True to ISE form, the Woodbridge Neighborhood resident often combines his roles to maximize effort and minimize “waste” – all to make a larger impact.

Dotson serves as a Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program instructor, a Wayne State peer mentor, a science and mathematics tutor, a College of Engineering tour guide and president of the Engineering Student Faculty Board. He is also an aspiring entrepreneur. In addition to ClickTheCause, he’s busy working on a digital conversion venture with an ISE alumnus, an online grocery delivery service, and a project that would help local businesses become more environmentally sustainable.

Additionally, he is part of a systems redesign team at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, and he has a number of internship and co-op positions under his belt at companies such as Volkswagen, Ford Motor Company and DTE Energy.

“It can seem like a lot at times, but my education has given me the tools to see the larger picture. I’m always ready for more,” he said.

When he graduates in 2014, he’ll be the first man in his family to earn a college degree. Fortunately for Detroit, he intends on staying right here.

“I love Detroit. I love Wayne State. We’re in the heart of everything and there’s a great sense of community. If there’s a possibility to positively impact Detroit, that’s what I intend to do.”

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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


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