Against the backdrop of high unemployment, poverty and high school dropouts, the Michigan Engineering Zone mentors Detroit high school students and seeks to inspire them to study engineering in college. The MEZ is pursuing a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant in an effort to help more students in more ways.

The zone, located at the UM Detroit Center on Woodward Avenue, is one of 1,000 projects competing for a grant this month. Winning projects will be the two that get the most votes from the general public during the month of November.

The MEZ focuses on developing students’ technical skills through activity on FIRST Robotics teams. High school students from around the country build robots to compete in the annual FIRST Robotics games. At the MEZ, Detroit area teams get for free access to a metal shop, space to build, and most importantly, mentors who are Michigan Engineering undergrads and professional engineers.

If the MEZ wins this funding, organizers’ goals are to:
* Increase the number of Detroit schools with FIRST teams from 10 to 20.
* Double the number of participating students from 150 to 300.
* Expand the workspace and practice field.
* Provide transportation between school and the MEZ for students who need it.
* Start an ACT prep course and tutoring workshop.

“By inspiring students to learn and experience engineering, and helping them develop the knowledge and skills necessary to propel themselves to higher education and careers in these fields, the MEZ can help the youth of Detroit create a bright future for themselves and their city,” said Jeanne Murabito, executive director for student affairs at the College of Engineering. “As a partnership among the UM, the College of Engineering, Detroit Public Schools, and FIRST Robotics, the MEZ has the potential to be a strong catalyst for change.”

MEZ organizers point out that you can vote every day, and more than once if you use different email addresses. Vote at

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.


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