LITE students turn Chevy Volt parts into duck houses

Aug 5, 2014

“Growing up, not every girl gets the chance to use power tools, so it was a lot of fun to be able to give them that chance.”

A LITE participant works on camouflaging her duck house. See more photos.

Each year, dozens of young women participating in Kettering University’s Lives Improve Through Engineering program get immersed in the impactful possibilities a STEM-focused education and career path can provide.


Thanks to a unique collaboration with General Motors, the 36 participants in this year’s LITE program also had a hands-on opportunity to make an immediate impact on the environment on July 31. John Bradburn, global manager of waste reduction efforts for GM, visited campus and gave a presentation about GM’s many environmental initiatives and also helped lead an interactive project that upcycled Chevy Volt battery covers into duck houses that will be hung along the Flint River.

“General Motors has a commitment to creating a healthy environment for wildlife,” Bradburn said.

Kettering University student Erika Beursken, a senior Mechanical Engineering major and the lead mentor for LITE, coordinated the project as a way to expose the participants to a fun, hands-on project that captures the spirit of the program -- namely, that science and engineering not only lead to great career opportunities, but also opportunities to create a better world.

“This was a good way to expose the girls to not only engineering theory, but also give them some experience,” Beursken said. “Growing up, not every girl gets the chance to use power tools, so it was a lot of fun to be able to give them that chance.”

Kettering University Plant Maintenance staff members helped create kits to build the duck houses. LITE participants, with the assistance of female Kettering student mentors, assembled the kits in a machining lab, then camouflaged them spray paint. Once completed, they’ll be hung in various places from Flint to Swartz Creek along the banks of the Flint River.

“The LITE program can be a life-changing experience for these girls,” Beursken said. “This project also gave us a chance to give something back to the environment.”

GM has worked with several youth organizations across Michigan to convert the Volt battery covers into duck houses. For more on the company’s environmental initiatives, visit

Written By Patrick Hayes | Contact: Patrick Hayes - - (810) 762-9639