Building a new generation of engineers drawn from educationally underserved communities

A growing program in Chicago that builds interest in science and technology among African American and Latino seeks to duplicate the success of a mature pre-college math and science curriculum in Detroit. One engineer’s vision got both off the ground.


Flash is required!

DAPCEP has provided many engineers to the automotive industry, and partners with those producers for support. Jason Lee is executive director.

Now that Labor Day is past and school is back in session, another program will be starting again in Chicago that seeks to draw children from educationally underserved communities into a learning track that will result in a new generation of engineers.

This program is the Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program, or ChiS&E. It began in early 2008, appropriately enough, with kindergartners, as “Little Civil Engineers.” With each new school year, those kids moved to the next level. With the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, those kindergartners are now fifth-graders and the program goes on building each year. The kids in this program are 60% African American and 40% Latino and come from communities that aren’t exactly known for strong educational opportunities.

Jason Lee is executive director of DAPCEP.The idea of creating an extracurricular program on Saturdays and summers to learn the basics of math and science is largely the brainchild of Kenneth Hill and reflects the program he helped launch in Detroit almost 40 years ago. DAPCEP (Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program) is now a thriving organization (watch the video above) that sends dozens of well-prepared new engineering students to University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and other partner schools every year.

Hill started his career working for a pipeline company in Detroit, but soon realized his calling was teaching. It didn’t take long for him to recognize that students coming out of public schools at the time were utterly unprepared for the kind of math that a college engineering curriculum demands. When the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation launched a national effort to increase the number of minorities in engineering, Hill saw the opportunity and DAPCEP was born.

Recreating that success in Chicago will take many years, but Hill is convinced that trying to bring in older students and start them mid-program isn’t nearly as effective. “It is based on the belief that the earlier you introduce concepts of math, science, and technology to young people, the greater the likelihood they will develop an interest and desire to pursue those disciplines as career options,” he says. “I also believe that the most successful model for learning is triangular—student, teacher, and parent. Thus, our program also educates parents so that they can be successful partners with teachers in the education of their children.”

These programs deserve the support of the larger engineering community, if for no other reason than they help ensure the next generation of our professions. The fact that they draw from underserved communities is one additional benefit that should not be ignored. The respective websites offer ways to contact the organizations, and they would like to hear from you.

--Peter Welander,

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
2015 Mid-Year Report: Manufacturing's newest tool: In a digital age, digits will play a key role in the plant of the future; Ethernet certification; Mitigate harmonics; World class maintenance
2015 Lubrication Guide: Green and gold in lubrication: Environmentally friendly fluids and sealing systems offer a new perspective
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Cyber security attack: The threat is real; Hacking O&G control systems: Understanding the cyber risk; The active cyber defense cycle
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths
New industrial buildings: Greener, cleaner, leaner; New building designs for industry; Take a new look at absorption cooling; Offshored jobs start to come back

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.