The end of the school year did not deter a school-business collaboration from grabbing students’ attention with some shiny sets of wheels.
Engineers and auto designers from Ford, General Motors and Chrysler parked by the Utica Center for Science and Industry in Sterling Heights June 4 to talk to Utica Community Schools students.
The event, titled “Where Innovation Meets Design,” was aimed at reaching out to young people who love cars or are curious about science, technology, engineering or math.
Organizer Harry Istok, a retired drafting teacher who formerly taught at Malow Junior High School, has been holding the annual events since 2006. The event first had General Motors step aboard. Then Ford followed in 2009, followed by Chrysler in 2012.
“As a teacher, my credibility was only going to go so far,” he said. “They needed to talk to the people first-hand. The cars are basically eye-candy.”
Istok said this is the first year that the event was held at the Center for Science and Industry at the Instructional Resource Center. It’s also the first year that all the high schools and junior high schools were invited.
During the event, students had the chance to look at full-sized vehicles outside and attend formal presentations that explained how cars are designed, be it through clay model or elaborate computer programs.
Istok said his efforts to steer students toward the automotive industry have been fruitful, adding that about six former students who are now professionals came to the event.
Joe Dehner, head of Dodge and Ram design at Chrysler, called the day’s events part of an outreach program that exposes career opportunities. He said the forum gave students a chance to see three auto manufacturers come together with their best talent — and to catch a peek of what’s going on under the tent of the auto industry.
Codie Witt, an 11th-grader who attends Utica CSI, liked the selection of cars on display. “I’ve seen a very nice Dodge Viper,” he explained. “They’ve also got the Corvette and some Camaros, but the Viper is the best one here.”
The Utica Center for Science and Industry is a UCS program based in the school district’s Instructional Resource Center. It supplements students’ high school curricula by helping them grow in their engineering and technical skills.
Learn more about Utica Community Schools at www.utica k12.org or by calling (586) 797-1000.
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