'Fostering Interest in Information Technology' program aims to build science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills for underserved high-school students

December 3, 2007

DEARBORN / Dec. 3, 2007---The School of Education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) worth $900,000 over the next three years to support a new program for underserved high-school students.

The program will provide opportunities for the students to build skills and knowledge of information technologies within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The youth-based program, called Fostering Interest in Information Technology (FI3T), will begin next July and run through June 2011.

FI3T will employ a concept called "Community of Designers" that brings together partners from schools, colleges, industry and government organizations focused on advanced IT applications in STEM disciplines.

The partners will work to create high-quality learning projects, strategies and curriculum models for use in afterschool, weekend and summer settings through hands-on, inquiry-based activities with a strong emphasis on non-traditional approaches to learning and understanding, according to education Prof. Mesut Duran, principal investigator and the director of the UM-Dearborn project.

Duran is working on the project with UM-Dearborn professors Margret Hoft, Brahim Medjahed, Elsayed Orady and Paul Zitzewitz.

“In recent years due to the relentless advance of IT developments, the business, industry and government sectors in southeastern Michigan are facing fierce global competition from around the world that has simply decimated our traditional regional manufacturing-based workforce,” Duran said.

“This has led to a steep decline in the local, state, and to some degree, national economies. One of the steps deemed absolutely necessary to competitively transform the region from a ‘brute-force’ to a ‘brain-force’ economy is to provide K-12 student-centered research vehicles with a strong emphasis on innovative 21st century career and educational pathways.”

The FI3T project funded by the NSF’s Information Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers Program (ITEST) is a direct response to this need, Duran said. “It will provide opportunities for underrepresented high-school students in grades 9-12, particularly those from disadvantaged urban communities in southeastern Michigan, to build the skills and knowledge needed to function and contribute in a technologically rich society.”

After attending year-long IT workshops offered in the context of four major STEM subject areas, students will attend eight day-long field trips during the summer to locations representing IT applications in different fields. Working in teams, students will develop science-fair quality projects in the following school year that reflect their grasp and ability to solve problems with IT applications.

Partners participating in the project will include the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, and the School of Education at UM-Dearborn; Detroit Public Schools and Oakland Schools; and industry partners such as the Survivability Technology Area of the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC); Dassault Systèmes’/DELMIA Corporation; FANUC Robotics Inc; Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute; the Department of Systems Analytics and Environmental Science at Ford Motor Company; the Department of Advanced and Manufacturing Engineering Quality at Ford Motor Company; and the 21st Century Digital Learning Environments.

“We hope this project will provide awareness of and insightful solutions to collaborative leading-edge IT developments at the college and high-school level while also directing students into 21st century IT careers,” Duran said.



CONTACT: Jennifer Sroka
PHONE: 313-593-5644
The Office of University Relations
Room 1040, Administration Building
University of Michigan-Dearborn