U-M Program Steers Detroit Kids Toward STEM Careers

8/17/12Follow @XconomyDET

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First Robotics gave him a snapshot of careers in computer science and robotics. He says until he joined the robotics team, he didn’t participate in school activities much. By his junior year, he was on the student council, in the chess club, and the president of the National Honors Society. First Robotics taught him how to problem-solve, as the mentors are careful to let the students figure out how to design and program robots. By his senior year, he was teaching his fellow First Robotics teammates. “The MEZ teaches you fellowship, leadership, and how to work in groups,” he adds.

Murabito says Durrah personifies why the MEZ’s outreach is so important, particularly in a school district as troubled and underfunded as DPS. The MEZ is now at the point where it can’t accept any more students in its robotics program.

Much to Murabito’s dismay, the MEZ had to turn schools away last year. “We have a successful model and we’d love to expand, but we need more funding,” she adds. “We’re always looking for more mentors and corporate funding.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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  • Guest

    This is great for the one kid that gets the scholarship and the robotics engineering job. No so great for the hundreds or thousands who’s job doesn’t exist anymore because of automation. I’m not against automation, it’s inevitable but we need to find new ways of employing people. There’s plenty of research to be done in biotech and medicine but the funding isn’t there to ramp up hiring, so I’m not sure I have a better answer.

  • Egrippa

    There’s a shortage of STEM jobs already — wages have fallen as jobs have been offshored. Train the kids to go into the medical field; boomers are getting old and need doctors, nurses, etc.

  • Sarah Schmid

    Actually, Detroit is one of the fastest growing cities in America in terms of new tech jobs. Almost every local tech company I talk to mentions that they’re hiring and they would prefer to hire Michigan talent.

    Sure, the medical field is a good bet, but there is plenty of science and technology involved in medicine! I just can’t see getting kids interested in STEM as a bad thing, no matter how shaky our economy may be at the moment.