My first job in college was as a counselor at Camp Badger Exploring Engineering through the College of Engineering and Department of Engineering Professional Development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There were seven, week-long, overnight camps hosted on the UW-Madison campus for students entering eighth grade. The camp was created with the goal of exposing economically disadvantaged students to engineering and a college campus to help students realize that higher education was within reach.
At the end of that summer, I was asked to stay on as the Camp Coordinator for the following summer. I was responsible for over 350 students at ten different camps in three cities. I worked over forty hours a week and on weekends. It was hard work, but I have never loved a job more. Promoting STEM Education efforts through engineering youth outreach quickly became my passion and following my passion lead me to Challenge Detroit.
My Impact Project was the perfect opportunity to continue this work. I partnered with the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program, DAPCEP, to help them understand how they might build focused tracks into their developmentally appropriate programming.
Ultimately, I created a report on the design thinking process to help DAPCEP better empathize with their stakeholders; in this case future employers in the targeted industry. This project really opened my eyes to the great work being done on STEM outreach in the region. It was amazing to meet so many people who shared my passion and were working full time on making a difference.
One of the most valuable insights I gained was from my partner liaison, Maria Webb, who told me that, “the goal of a non-profit should be to put themselves out of business.” They should be doing their work so well, that their organization is no longer needed. That day will come for DAPCEP when we see a gender and race balance present in STEM fields that is more in line with that of the general population.