This month the College of Engineering concluded its ninth season of outreach in Detroit at the Michigan Engineering Zone (the MEZ). The MEZ “innovation space” has supported 19 Detroit high school teams this year, inspiring more than 2,500 students to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) over the past nine years through their participation in the FIRST Robotics competitions. Hands-on design and programming workshops augmented the process of product development that the teams engaged in to prepare to compete with teams from around the State of Michigan. In addition, the MEZ has provided a community outreach experience to more than 30 Michigan Engineering students who were mentors, along with the 80+ professional engineers who support these high schools and their students. Thirty-eight out of 40 seniors this year have identified plans to attend college post-graduation, including five students who will become Michigan Wolverines.
Though trophies are not the measure of success at the MEZ, in the past four seasons the MEZ has fielded six district competition winners and two contenders at the state championships, both of which were in their rookie season. Plans are currently under development to provide additional hands-on experiences to continue to drive the exposure of these Detroit students to even higher levels of achievement, in academics robotics and their pursuit of higher education. The MEZ rocks!
During the fall of 2017, the MEZ, in partnership with the Qualcomm Corporation, created the Thinkabit Lab. This program introduces middle school students to the world of work and introduces factors for students to begin to think about for future careers. In addition, they design and use mini-robots to build a mechanized solution to a world problem. This year we will serve 3,000 Detroit middle school students.