AIMing for success!

Aug 14, 2009

Kettering University's Lives Improve Through Engineering (LITE) and Academically Interested Minds programs enjoyed another season of success AND received some more inspiring news in 2009.

Sometimes, taking proper aim at a specific goal takes a few years and some careful consideration. And in the case of three Kettering University alumni, it took a simple call from Kettering President Stan Liberty during an alumni gathering in New York City to spur them into action.

That’s what happened with Jane Boon ’90, Valerie Grubb ’90 and Matt Logan ’90, all of whom attended the New York City reception and felt inspired to help out. At the urging of Grubb and Logan, the three friends came together and decided to sponsor a student participating in Kettering’s Academically Interested Minds (AIM) program.

She made this contribution at the urging of two close friends and Kettering graduates, Valerie Grubb ’90 and Matt Logan ’90, all of whom attended theNew York City reception and felt inspired to help out.

Additionally, the three came together and thought a good way to become even more involved would be through the sponsorship of a student participating in Kettering’s Academically Interested Minds (AIM) program, which is also a pre-college effort similar to LITE.

Boon is a writer and researcher on technology and policy in New York. She also serves as an advisor to early stage technology companies like, an online, person-to-person lending platform. She had previously endowed another of Kettering’s pre-college programs, Lives Improve Through Engineering (LITE), with a $50,000 gift.

“When Matt and Val suggested we sponsor an AIM student, I agreed enthusiastically because Kettering’s pre-college programs are so innovative and effective. The AIM program has been particularly successful at producing eager students ready to enroll at Kettering, and made President Liberty’s call irresistible,” Boon said. “We hope our example will encourage other alums to consider supporting the program and the school in general,” she added.

AIM is a five-week residential summer program designed to help students of color make a successful transition from high school to college. Students from across the US, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean attend freshman level courses in calculus, chemistry, chemistry lab, computer programming, computer lab, economics, physics, physics lab and business management.

Kettering professors teach classes, as well as assign homework and give exams. On Fridays, students take company tours and speak with professional engineers and managers. At the end of the program, Kettering presents scholarships to the students who rank in the top 15 of the AIM program.

Grubb and Logan served as highly regarded executives who recently left the corporate ranks—she established her own enterprise while he moved on to a new company and new career. Grubb established a company specializing in operations consulting and training ( and Logan entered the financial services industry. Both have also been heavily involved in community service throughout their careers and through their donation to AIM believe this is yet another way to give back and support those who wish to attend a quality institution of higher education like Kettering.

"Kettering University provided a solid foundation for my career.  The principles I learned in class, and then applied with my co-op employer, have played a key role in my subsequent successes,” Grubb said, adding, “It is a pleasure to help another student discover all that Kettering has to offer."

 “It’s been great reuniting with my 1990 classmates and helping our with the AIM program,” Logan said.

Dwight Tavada, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Initiatives, which oversees the AIM program, said contributions such as this not only help sustain pre-college programs, but help insure that other gifted students receive an opportunity to participate in these efforts.

“The sponsorship support of Valerie and Matt affords us the opportunity to attract and develop intellectual minds in preparation for advanced studies in the areas of math, science and engineering,” Tavada said. “This kind of support also tells program participants that our graduates want them to succeed,” he added.

AIM has achieved quote a notable recognition in recent years as one of the best pre-college programs in Michigan and perhaps in this part of the country. Earlier in 2009, the National Association of Multicultural Engineer Professional Advocates (NAMEPA) honored AIM with the Pre-College Program of the Year award.

AIM received the honor at the organization’s March conference "Advancing Diversity in Engineering: Helping America Compete," which reflects the Association's historical purpose and the importance of its contributions to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. The awards celebration took place at the Sony Motion Picture Studio in Los Angeles.

The award recognized pre-college programs that introduce students to academic degree programs and careers in engineering and that encourage them to enroll in engineering programs in college.

“What made our program stand out was our strong academic emphasis and our collaboration with industry, which enables us to expose AIM students to engineering careers through company tours and corporate sponsorship,” said Ricky Brown, associate director of Minority Student Affairs in the Office of Multicultural Student Initiatives.

“We were also unique in that we had 29 out of 36 participants of the 2008 AIM class apply to Kettering, with 19 matriculating as freshmen at the University this year,” he added. Since 1994, 49 percent of all students who participated in AIM matriculated at the University, according to Brown, who directs the AIM program with Stephanie Jones, associate director of Minority Student Affairs.

Additionally, Kettering’s University Advancement Department holds an AIM/LITE auction, which raises funds to support the program and students who participate.

This year, the event took place at Orchard Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills,Mich., and raised more than $70,000 in support of both pre-college programs. This is the second year in a row that the auction has brought in more than $70,000 in support for AIM and LITE, according to Natalie Dronchat, director of Special Events.

To learn more about AIM, LITE and other Kettering pre-college programs, visit

Written by Gary J. Erwin