Ford Motor Company is committed to providing young people with the opportunity to explore STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and math – in a hands-on way.
On December 10, more than 75 girls from schools around the metro Detroit area, in grades four through eight, came together at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit. The Science Center hosts several programs to give young women hands-on experience with tech fields – one of those being the Ford-sponsored STEMinista project.
The participants were given recycled materials to create an innovation or invention that solves a problem of their choosing – they ranged from transportation to food. One group created a flying car with their recycled materials to solve a transportation issue, while another created a device that delivered a food of their choosing to them, with just the push of a button.
Fifteen Ford role models – women in STEM fields ranging from environmental science, finance, product development, information technology and manufacturing– spent a few minutes with each group of girls, talking to them about their careers, and helping them with their innovations and inventions.
The program aims to show young girls the several different areas where STEM plays a role – medical, technical, and many more. One way to do that, is to surround them with women who are in these fields, and allow them to “pick their brains” – ask questions and explore their day-to-day activities, in order to give them a real-life idea of what a future in STEM looks like.
“It isn’t just about being good at math and science,” said Alison Bazil, business manager for vehicle components and system engineering at Ford. “If you like to be creative and inventive, solve problems and make things better, that’s really what engineering is all about.”
Bazil herself was interested in a career in engineering at a young age, and was hired at Ford when she was 21 years old. She said one of the messages she wants to give young women is that stereotypes about STEM fields aren’t always accurate.
“There is a stereotype that engineers sit in a dark cube and never talk to another soul, they’re just clicking around on a computer,” said Bazil. “It’s so much more creative than that; at times we’re going to get actual parts, we’re playing and being very hands-on in order to be creative.”
That’s not dissimilar to what the groups were instructed to do with their recycled materials – find a way to solve a problem by creating something with what you’re given. That assignment is an honest way to show these young women what a career in STEM can be like.
“It is so important to set an example – engineering is not a new field, but they don’t see a lot of women who do it,” said Bazil. “What’s great about this program is we have all different women from Ford – all ages and backgrounds, to drive the message home.”
June 6, 2016
This July, Michigan Technological University’s Summer Youth Programs (SYP) will host 24 exceptional middle school students from five Midwestern states. Ten of them have won a new, competitive scholarship called Junior Women in Engineering, funded by $10,000 from the Ford Motor Company.
The weeklong program will take place on the Michigan Tech campus in Houghton, Michigan, July 24 to 30, 2016.
The program is an exploration of the various types of engineering, showcasing future career paths. During the week, the students will stay in the residence halls, enjoy meals in the dining hall and attend class across campus, enabling them to get a feel for the independence that comes with attending college. The main purpose of the program is to help girls learn what engineering entails and help them to envision their future as women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.
Exploring Engineering Fields
Participants from Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois will be challenged to design and implement various projects from many different fields of engineering, including civil, environmental, mechanical, electrical, materials and more. The students will problem-solve, create, work in teams and learn to overcome obstacles, much the way engineers do in their careers.
Ford Motor Company also provided $10,000 in funding towards each of Michigan Tech’s Women in Engineering (WIE) and Women in Computer Science (WICS) scholarship programs. “STEM at Ford is committed to helping develop a skilled workforce,” said Alison Bazil, co-lead of the company’s STEM Advisory Council. “The Michigan Tech summer engineering program is a great way for Ford to support students exploring the STEM fields.”
Ford also gave $10,000 to help support WIE in 2015.
Women in Engineering
WIE is a highly competitive, engaging week-long look at engineering careers in areas such as mechanical, computer, environmental, electrical, chemical, biomedical, civil, geological and materials engineering. One hundred and fifty high school students from across the country and around the world will participate in the program, which features engineering sessions, group projects and special topic presentations. Participants this year include high school students from Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, Illinois, Georgia, California, Arizona, Alabama, Wisconsin, Washington, Virginia and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The WICS program includes an exploration of computer programming, artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, visualization, networks and cybersecurity. Twenty-four young women will learn about career opportunities in computing and the excellent job prospects in a wide range of industries. Participants this year will travel from Missouri, California, New Jersey, Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Summer Youth Programs also offers a variety of other camps and explorations, including business, computing, engineering, humanities, leadership, social sciences, outdoor and environmental studies, and science and technology. Each camp is one week long, beginning June 21 and ending August 1, 2016.
For more information on SYP camps or scholarship opportunities, visit www.syp.mtu.edu or call the Center for Pre-College Outreach office at (906) 487-2219.
September 22, 2016
To inspire the next generation of automakers, it's critical that children be exposed to STEAM at an early age. If they've acquired an interest in STEAM principles by eighth grade, they're three times more likely to pursue careers in STEAM fields later in life. By providing the right opportunities and resources, we can inspire more kids to become innovators, problem solvers and big dreamers.
With hopes of getting kids interested in the big world of automotive, we started with what felt natural -- cars, small ones. This series of quick videos demonstrates how to create fun DIY cars while learning basic STEAM principles. Watch the videos with your kids to help explore their interestes and expand their minds.
September 2, 2016
For months, college engineering students with a passion for motorsports breathe, eat and live race car aerodynamics – tuning, testing and tweaking their cars to ensure their team has the lightest, fastest machine on the track.
Since 2004, hundreds of students on Ford-sponsored teams in Formula SAE, Solar Car, SAE Super mileage and other series work to make their cars as aerodynamically efficient as possible. They aim for perfection – striving to be the fastest and the best. Along their journey, Ford engineers help them refine their craft in one of the company’s world-class wind tunnels.
Ford has been inspiring and mentoring the next generation of dedicated student racers for more than a decade, offering the time and expertise of its engineers and allowing the teams to put their cars to the test in its tunnel facilities in Allen Park, Michigan.
An automotive wind tunnel generates a controlled stream of fast-moving air, simulating real-world conditions to allow aerodynamic development in vehicles.
Ford’s wind tunnel is particularly sophisticated, providing both aerodynamic and aeroacoustic testing in a wide variety of environmental conditions for the company’s diverse lineup of both current and future vehicles. Ultimately, the facility allows Ford to bring higher-quality products to its customers.
A wide variety of student teams are putting their prototype vehicles to the test at Ford’s wind tunnel facility Some of these include the University of Michigan-Dearborn; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Missouri University of Science and Technology; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Michigan State University; and The Ohio State University.
“For Ford, this is great community involvement,” says Erik Stancato, a Ford vehicle architecture-vehicle integration engineer. Stancato formerly captained his Formula SAE team at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. “We have the testing facilities, we can answer the technical questions, and we can offer occasional manufacturing support,” he says.
Steve Wegryn, Ford supervisor of wind tunnel operations, says the facility lets the students come full-circle on their designs. “By simulating race speeds, they can validate their projections and estimations on downforce and drag with hard data – enabling them to tweak their design for optimal performance,” he says.
Very true, says Justin Rujan, lead aerodynamics engineer for the Formula SAE team at University of MichiganDearborn. Rujan recently spent a day in Ford’s wind tunnel. “In a book, you can learn the basics and lay the groundwork to make design choices,” he says. “But until you can actually apply that, and know you’re doing it the right way, it’s hard to make those choices.”
In May 2015, the U-M Dearborn team placed 8th out of 120 college teams at the Michigan International Speedway, competing against teams from around the world.
However, the results can be seen long before the race begins. Tristan MacKethan, a junior and co-aerodynamic lead for Formula SAE’s MRacing at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, says his team was able to optimize downforce by 24 percent as a result of an eight-hour session in the tunnel.
Downforce improves traction and cornering abilities, both important factors in racing. Ultimately, this should lead to faster lap times on the track.
MacKethan, interning at Ford this summer in the autonomous vehicle platform group, is part of a growing community of recruits from the program.
Competing on a student team offers benefits even after college, notes Joe Hendrickson, who joined Ford as a systems engineer soon after graduating from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2015.
He served as captain of his Formula SAE team his senior year.
“With this program, you’re using your degree before you even get out of school,” he says. “You’re used to changing things around, collaborating, trying new things. That’s helped me immensely in my position at Ford.”
September 27, 2016
As part of its expanding support for STEAM educational programs, Ford Motor Company has joined with Girls Who Code, a non-profit that teaches computer science to sixth through 12th grade girls. The company is hosting daylong tech events at its Ford Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California.
“The girls get the chance to see what cool projects exist at a company like Ford that involve the use of code, so they can envision how what they’re learning right now can be used in the future,” said Ford research scientist Sarah Houts, a panelist at one of the events. “They also get to see the diverse backgrounds of the people who work on those projects so they can gain an understanding that code is a tool with applications for nearly every field.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in STEAM related fields will grow to more than 9 million by 2022. Both women and men are needed to fill those jobs.
“The use of technology is growing exponentially among young people, yet it’s becoming increasingly difficult to attract them to technology-related educational programs,” said Marcy Klevorn, Ford chief information officer. “Ford is working with Girls Who Code to educate them on the many exciting career opportunities available in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. This kind of outreach grows more important each year.”
So far this year, Ford has held three sessions with Girls Who Code, and recently hired two alumni as interns. One is working with augmented reality models and menus, the other with Java and Android. Already, each of these young women has produced work resulting in her being listed as sole inventor in separate invention disclosures – the first step in securing a patent.
The collaboration has been rewarding for Ford and Girls Who Code. “This program has been a great success,” said Jeffry Keiffer, manager human resources in Palo Alto. “We hope to continue the relationship in 2017.”
November 17, 2016
American industry was built on innovation. Yet, innovation is tightly tied to science, technology, engineering and math, the combination of subjects commonly referred to as STEM. The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has been working to expand the nation’s thinking by approaching educators and the legislature with evidence that art and design are “poised to transform our economy in the 21st century, just as science and technology did in the last century.”[i] So, several years ago, the design school began championing the STEAM movement. According to the RISD STEM to STEAM website, “the goal is to foster the true innovation that comes with combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or designer.”[ii]
“STEAM began to gain traction in industry and government circles with the introduction of House Resolution 319, sponsored by Jim Langevin (D-RI), ‘expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that adding art and design into federal programs that target Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields encourages innovation and economic growth in the United States.’ In 2013, RISD helped to launch the Congressional STEAM Caucus, and in 2016, Caucus Co-Chair Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) successfully introduced an amendment to the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now ESSA), laying the foundation for integrating K-12 arts and STEM education:‘(vi) integrating other academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM programs to increase participation in STEM, improve attainment of STEM-related skills and promote well-rounded education.’”
This type of movement in legislation will go a long way in helping RISD’s work toward the integration of art and design in K-20 education with the hope of driving innovation in the 21st century.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rhode Island School of Design
December 1, 2016
Scott Weiler has been teaching for nearly 11 years. He’s currently teaching engineering at Amphi Middle School in Tucson, Ariz. – a city that he says is one of the poorest in the country. He sees a natural determination in his students, something seen in innovators, but they’re not sure what to do with it. He wanted to change that, and that’s how Girl Power in Science and Engineering was born.
It started in 2012, with the goal to connect young girls at Amphi with female mentors in STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The program began with 45 girls and 15 mentors, encouraging conversation, taking field trips and educating them on what STEAM is in a positive way.
The mentors Weiler brings into the program give the girls a real-life example of women who have worked hard to pursue a career in STEAM, and what it took to get them where they are. Oftentimes, the details are what’s lacking – the girls haven’t always encountered role models from STEAM fields in their personal lives.
“They meet these women in STEAM that I bring in, and they can see that they aren’t much different from their mother, their aunt, and so on,” Weiler said. “There are women that came from poverty, were immigrants, any of those things, it doesn’t matter.”
One key piece of the Girl Power program is making sure the participants get a well-rounded view of what’s involved in the STEAM fields – something that Weiler feels is often lacking in STEAM education.
“They can problem solve and go through a design process, build something, and that’s all great, but that doesn’t exactly tell them what it’s going to take to get there, what the outcome is going to be, and that there’s going to be obstacles,” he said.
Amphi Middle School is located just a few miles from the University of Arizona, a great science and engineering school, so Weiler takes the girls there to show them everything from the dorms to the classrooms. “We want them to understand that it’s not going to be for everybody, we’re not trying to tell them there’s only one path,” said Weiler. “We’re trying to say here’s one more path you may not have known about and you might like this a lot.”
The program has since grown to 60 girls and 25 mentors – which is the most they can take right now. “We can max out at 60 girls because that’s the maximum we can fit on a bus with two adults,” said Weiler. “If we could afford the extra bus then we would bump it up to 120, easily.”
March 10, 2017
As part of the commitment Ford Motor Company made to STEAM education, the company is investing in the next generation of automakers – engineers, technicians, scientists, designers and innovators.
In the last five years, Ford has invested over 63 million dollars in education-related programs. The goal of the Ford STEAM experience is to serve as a learning and sharing hub that makes STEAM education more accessible to American youth.
On January 30, Vice President of information technology and chief information officer at Ford, Marcy Klevorn, visited second-grade students at Detroit Country Day Lower School, to educate them on STEAM fields – science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Klevorn explained how Ford employees tackle problems to improve people’s lives.
“At a time when the need for STEAM careers is rising, the supply for those roles is not,” Klevorn said. “That’s why it’s important for us to get these children excited about being in those roles, so they can start thinking about what’s possible for them in the future.”
The students learned about the FordPass app™ – a total customer experience that is designed to improve people’s lives as they navigate through cities, find parking available in select cities, use their phones for vehicle information and more. They were also given the opportunity to get an inside look at a Ford vehicle that uses the FordPass app, exploring how the app is designed to work in conjunction with the vehicle.
Klevorn introduced them to the team of Ford employees who work on the app, from its design to data. Those team members also helped the students brainstorm and create ideas for robotics projects they’re working on in school. Enabling the students to have discussions with the people who do these jobs every day gives them a clearer picture of the possibilities for their own futures.
“Our ultimate goal is to inspire interest in technology and innovation which is not only critical to Ford, but also the world’s future development,” said Klevorn. “By supporting education in these areas, we’re creating opportunities connecting the company and its employees directly with youth and the community-at-large.”
Jennifer Bullock, Detroit Country Day Lower School director said the presentation with Ford was very much in line with the school’s commitment to educating their students about STEAM fields. She and her staff believe that instead of asking students what specific careers they may want in their futures, they should be asking what problems they want to solve.
“The Ford team taught the children about how they work in teams to solve problems, and that many innovations are the result of lots of trial and error,” Bullock said. “They enjoyed learning about the industry’s progress toward autonomous vehicles, and current technology at Ford where cars and drivers communicate with each other.”