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
November 06, 2018
Thanks to the High School Science and Technology Program (HSSTP), Sarah Makki is currently doing a work-study program with the calibration team for 2liter, while completing her bachelor’s degree in Robotics Engineering at the University of Michigan Dearborn.
Makki attended the HSSTP Saturday sessions, and from there was hired as a summer intern at Ford, where she was able to facilitate experiments and contribute to research that helped open her eyes to the possibilities at Ford.
“I love working at Ford, and the high school internship was eye-opening,” she said. “The program helped me recognize my strengths and weaknesses and all of the possibilities at Ford.”
The student said her experiences with HSSTP and Ford also helped her narrow down what she wanted to study, as well as what she would need in order to do that. Additionally, it helped her see the possibilities beyond school – showing her what’s out there after graduation.
“I want to do something cool and make something that really changes mobility, and I have realized through my experience here that I can definitely do that at Ford,” Makki said.
The goal of HSSTP is to give student participants valuable insights into real-life applications of the skills learned in classrooms, while also giving Ford a chance to promote science and engineering and encouraging students to consider new career options.
“For over 30 years, the program has given students the opportunity to spend time on the Ford campus in Dearborn, while meeting with scientists, engineers and technicians to see how science and engineering can have real-world applications,” said Ken Washington, Ford vice president, research and advanced engineering.
About 200 students attend presentations by Ford employees who volunteer their time each year.
April 28, 2017
Henry Ford Learning Institute (HFLI) is increasing the scope of its 2017 summer Design
Thinking workshops to serve more K-20 educators and meet the demand for
continued professional growth opportunities for past participants.
All of HFLI’s 2017 summer workshops for educators are held in dynamic
learning spaces and focus on developing capacity for innovation through Design
Thinking, a human-centered creative problem solving process:
-Introduction to Design Thinking for Educators, July 12-14, Detroit, Michigan
-Innovation Collaborative for Design Thinking, July 17-18, Detroit, Michigan
-Innovation Leaders, July 20-21, Detroit, Michigan
-Introduction to Design Thinking for Educators, Aug. 7-9, San Antonio, Texas
“The skills, mindsets, and processes in Design Thinking are being called for in
Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards – and
they are highly sought after by top employers,” said Deborah Parizek, Executive
Director of Henry Ford Learning Institute. “HFLI’s immersive workshops inspire
and build an educator’s capacity to provide Design Thinking experiences for
students, develop a culture of innovation, and lead innovation in their K-20
“I left my HFLI workshop feeling invigorated and excited about the possibilities
that this mindset and process bring to my practice,” said Elizabeth Joyner,
STEM Learning and Innovation Specialist at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy in
Suffolk, Virginia, and a 2016 HFLI Introduction to Design Thinking for Educators
participant. “Since then I have facilitated the Design Thinking process for a
variety of projects at my school and with faculty across disciplines. The
difference in student engagement is staggering; students who tend to be
passive have found their voices and are beginning to actualize their potential
right in front of my eyes. Our next step is to have students use the Design
Thinking process to explore and address practical problems for stakeholders in
our learning communities. “
For the first time, HFLI will offer its popular Introduction to Design Thinking for
Educators workshop in San Antonio, Texas. This experience helps teachers and
other school leaders learn how this creative problem solving process can be
used to engage students in challenging projects that foster innovation and
In Detroit, HFLI’s summer professional development opportunities will again
include Introduction to Design Thinking for Educators and Innovation
Collaborative for Design Thinking workshops. For the first time, HFLI will offer
Innovation Leaders, an immersive experience created for educators and
administrators who want to develop skills and techniques to lead innovation
with empathy; participants will work together to identify opportunities for
change in their schools and design small-scale prototypes that have the
potential to lead to big-scale change.
Ninety-seven percent of past HFLI workshop participants report that they
would recommend the experience to a colleague.
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.”
February 10, 2017
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.”
January 25, 2017
Ford Motor Company recognizes that robotics programs are a great way for children to start experiencing STEAM fields in action. For that reason, the company has been supporting FIRST® Robotics for nearly 20 years.
FIRST® – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – provides the opportunity for students in grades K-12 to work in teams, bringing STEAM fields to life by building their own robots. For two students in particular, the program was very beneficial to them even after they graduated from college.
Matthew Carpenter and Robert Self – former members of FIRST® – are now full-time employees at Ford through the company’s Ford College Graduate program. The rotational program gives college grads the opportunity to work in several different departments throughout the company over a 32 month period, before committing to an area permanently.
Carpenter became a FIRST® member in high school, after some friends who were heavily involved in the program encouraged him to check it out. “I was one of those kids that always took stuff apart when they were little, so this was right up there with the kind of things I was interested in,” he said.
Carpenter’s team was mentored by Ford employees, which helped him network and ultimately, get into the Ford College Graduate program. He credits his ability to pick up technical skills like computer aided design and programming to his FIRST® involvement. He said participating in the program made him realize that he liked hands-on problem solving, which led him to pursue engineering as a career, not just a hobby.
“I learned a lot about communicating with people who have different backgrounds than I do,” Carpenter said. “That’s an essential skill for working in cross-functional teams.”
Self joined the program his junior year in high school, and credits FIRST® with helping guide him toward a definitive career path. He says through the program, he learned core engineering skills that he uses in his position at Ford today.
“At the time, I was really involved in physics and chemistry and the core science and math courses, but I didn’t necessarily know exactly what I wanted to do,” said Self. “Being able to go and work with other high school students and industry mentors, develop my technical skills, and realize how math and science are used outside the classroom really opened up the window for me to realize that I wanted to be an engineer.”
His involvement in FIRST® has come full circle, as he is now on the Ford FIRST® board, working to improve employee involvement with mentoring. He himself will be mentoring teams beginning in January.
Both Self and Carpenter agree that based on their experience in the Ford College Graduate program so far, it meets its goal – to help millennials build a career with Ford Motor Company.