Ford Motor Company Fund grant promotes technical awareness, education

The Impact, Fall 2003

Photo: Dean of Engineering and Science Leo Hanifin speaks at the October 2 groundbreaking ceremony for an automotive technology wing at Southeastern High School.


The Oct. 2 groundbreaking ceremony of a wing dedicated to automotive technology at Southeastern High School in Detroit represented a major commitment to technical education for Detroit students. And UDM’s College of Engineering & Science has a major role in providing technical education to high school students, particularly under-represented minorities, in southeast Michigan.

The program at Southeastern is one of five planned in 2003-04 through a two-year Ford Motor Company Fund grant to UDM for the Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies (PAS). Another five schools will be identified for 2004-2005.

Speaking at the ceremony, UDM's Dean of Engineering & Science Leo E. Hanifin says, "Our leadership in engineering and technology are crucial to the future of our nation and, in very special ways, to the future of Detroit. Without an adequate engineering team, the nation will have neither the products nor the security and defense systems to be a world leader."

He also comments that "a diverse technical team is a better team" for solving problems with ideas drawn from different cultural frameworks and for creating products responsive to diverse markets.

UDM is one of the first institutions of higher education to commit to the nationwide Ford PAS program aimed at helping high school students learn about and prepare for careers in science, technology and engineering. Community partnerships include the participating high schools, higher education (UDM locally) and business and industry partners. Partners represented at Southeastern High's groundbreaking, for example, included DaimlerChrysler, Farmer Jack, UDM and Ford.

"Ford PAS provides high school students with quality interdisciplinary learning experiences that challenge them academically and develop their problem-solving, critical-thinking and communication skills," explains Angela H. Polk, director of Ford PAS at UDM.

This fall, the program launches at Holy Redeemer and Southeastern High Schools in Detroit and West Bloomfield High School in suburban Oakland County. Additional potential participants include Southwestern, Cass Tech, Cody, Renaissance and Berkley high schools in metropolitan Detroit.

The curriculum has been developed by Educational Development Center Inc., an educational consultant to Ford. Polk will work with teachers and high school coordinators to incorporate the program's five courses (15 modules) into their academic curriculum. Teachers will also meet to share best practices and discuss any barriers to learning. Students will visit the UDM campus for enrichment activities using labs, instruments and computing systems not available at their schools. In addition, UDM faculty and other program partners will visit the participating schools.

Plans also call for a Business Education Advisory Council to serve as an advisory resource and provide access to and involvement of the business community.