Weekend Wisdom for Motor City Students

Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program unveils career opportunities with Saturday STEM courses
Jan 10, 2022 1:20 PM ET
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Students may not know it now, but their six-week course with Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) just might set them on a new career trajectory.

Held in conjunction with local school districts and post-secondary partners such as the University of Michigan, DAPCEP delivers educational programs related to STEM industries to roughly 11,000 students per year.

“Back when the organization first started, the courses primarily focused on engineering,” says Michelle L. Reaves, Executive Director at DAPCEP. “But over the years we have expanded to a greater focus on STEM.”

There are approximately 35 courses open to students from Pre-K through Grade 12, from mechanical engineering to coding to artificial intelligence to biology or algebra. The courses offer foundational learnings to prepare students to pursue advanced STEM education later on.

The DAPCEP Saturday Series program is all the rage right now, as the short six-to-eight-week program is hosted for just two hours every Saturday, concluding with a final project and accomplished students at the end of it.

“These are not classes where the instructor talks the entire session—that teaching style is not ideal for students when exploring STEM,” says Reaves. “The class structure is project-based, so students are learning while working on an activity at the same time.”

The Saturday Series courses are held as part of DAPCEP’s Pathfinders for students in Grades 4 through 12. In 2014, DAPCEP added the Explorers Program to its Saturday Series targeting kids in pre-kindergarten to Grade 3.

Enbridge is committed to improving quality of life in the communities where we live and work. This year, Enbridge donated $25,000 to DAPCEP to fund the Saturday Series program, following our 2020 donation of $15,000. The funding creates more spaces for students to enroll in the sessions and increases the number of instructors teaching the curriculum.

Demand is rising as sessions start to return to in-person and students look to get out of the house.

“It’s been great being able to continue serving kids and families amidst the pandemic and going forward, we plan to always offer a virtual programming component in addition to in-person,” says Reaves.

As for program success, the results speak for themselves when students self-report their intentions to pursue an education after their DAPCEP experience. Pre- and post-series testing is also carried out to gauge student improvement.

“When we ask students about their education plans after the program, approximately 80% state that they want to take more classes focused on STEM,” says Reaves.

“Many say, ‘I didn’t know this was an opportunity for me,’ and that makes all the difference.”