STEPS program reaches new level
Impact, Summer 2003
Photos: Student teams from Holy Redeemer High School learn to build robots.
In the summer of 2002, UDM partnered with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and Ford Motor Company to offer the first Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) program in Michigan. Launched as a summer camp to promote engineering and science careers to high-school girls, the program is expanding.
According to Dan Maggio, director of Pre-College Programs in the College of Engineering & Science, "Our inaugural program last year was a great success. This summer, we plan to expand it from two to three sessions, which will allow more young women to participate."
Last summer, 80 sophomore and junior high-school girls from throughout the state attended the weeklong sessions. They built self-guided robots, visited Ford’s Dearborn Assembly plant, talked to some of Ford’s women engineers and experienced campus living. With three one-week sessions planned for this summer, a total of 120 girls can attend.
The program also has expanded beyond its initial summer camp concept. This past school year, students from Holy Redeemer High School and Western International High School participated in a series of field trips to UDM’s McNichols campus for a "mini" STEPS experience in which they too built robots. And thanks to a $30,000 donation from Ford, UDM plans to take STEPS into 10 area high schools this fall. The schools are involved in Ford’s High School Partnership outreach program.
STEPS was introduced at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1997 as a tuition-free, technology-based summer camp for girls, with the intent of encouraging their pursuit of engineering and science careers. Studies show that less than nine percent of engineers in the U.S. are women.
"This program helps us reach students at a critical age for determining their career plans," Maggio says. "We really appreciate having this opportunity, and having so many Ford employees willing to volunteer their time to give the young women a glimpse into their work lives."