LITEing the way

Jul 29, 2005

Kettering pre-college program for high school girls bridges the gap for young women interested in Engineering and Science careers.

LITEing the way for future engineers and scientists, the 2005 Lives Improve Through Engineering (LITE) pre-college program for girls drew 30 participants from across the United States. The four-year-old program gives high school seniors (in the fall) hands-on experiences in Bio-Engineering, Bio-Chemistry, Ergonomics and Crash Test Safety during two weeks on Kettering's campus.

"Engineering is a wonderful profession for women," said Betsy Homsher, associate dean of students and director of Women Student Affairs, "not only does it afford women economic independence, but many of the best companies hiring women engineers have great family-friendly programs, which make it possible for women to balance their professions and family life."

"Working Mother Magazine's list of the top 100 best companies for working moms includes General Motors, Ford and many of Kettering University co-op partners," said Homsher.

Getting women into Engineering is the hard part. "Research shows that junior high and high school-aged girls don't even know what Engineering is," Homsher said. Kettering's pre college programs are designed to introduce young women to various fields and career opportunities in Engineering, and highlight the importance of math and science in preparing for college. "It is important to keep girls engaged in math and science during junior high and high school so they are academically prepared to pursue Engineering in college," she said.

In addition to labs and lectures, participants have an opportunity to meet women engineers and scientists and learn about how engineers improve people's lives by applying math, science and technology to human problems.

The 2005 LITE class were:
Juliet Amene, of Oak Park, Mich.
Chelsea Gross, of Clarkston, Mich.
Alicia Neering, of Essexville,Mich.
Olga Rouditchenko, of Centerline, Mich.
Leslie Tse, of West Bloomfield, Mich.
Andrea Chambers, of Edina, Minn.
Laura Firstenberg, of Littleton, Mass.
Cara Riverso, of Holmes, N.Y.
Sara Johnson, of Davison, Mich.
Fatima Qureshi, of Flint, Mich.
Vanessa Croll, of Sand Creek, Mich.
Elizabeth White, of Shelby Township, Mich.
Catherine Dougherty, of Slidell, La.
Ashley Kilp, of Finleyville, Penn.
Yashimarae Poindexter, of Arlington, Texas
Sarah Luna, Camarillo, Calif.
Melissa Scholl, of Harrison, Mich.
Ruth Lincoln, of Ceresco, Mich.
Natalie Reeder, of St. Clair Shores, Mich.
Angela Shrestha, of Saginaw, Mich.
Samantha Best, of Clayton, N.C.
Ashley Faucher, of Winchester, Va.
Melissa Burns, of Flint, Mich.
Krista Carpenter, of Chesterfield, Ind.
Katie Friedman, of Bartlett, Tenn.
Amanda Gaabo, of Rochester, Mich.
Rachel Rabideau, of Clarkston, Mich.
Esther Taxon, of Oak Park, Mich.


This year's courses included:
Biomechanics -the study of the mechanics of the human body, and how bones and muscles work and why, taught by husband and wife team Dr. Patrick Atkinson, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Theresa Atkinson, independent crash test safety researcher.

Accident reconstruction and occupant kinematics - the study of auto-accident reconstruction and how occupants interact with vehicle safety systems, taught by Dr. Janet Brelin-Fornari, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Ergonomics - the study of how human beings interact with their environments, taught by Dr. Terri Lynch-Caris, assistant professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

Biochemistry - the basics of biochemistry including the four main bio-molecules: proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids, taught by Drs Ali Zand and Stacy Seeley, both associate professors of Chemistry.

In addition to the academics, participants also have a chance to get to know current Kettering students who serve as mentors to the program. Student mentors often taking unpaid leave from their co-op jobs to be LITE mentors.

The 2005 LITE mentors were:
Feba Pothen, of Waterford, Mich.; Hiede Echelberger, of Lucas, Ohio; Tracy Schmitz, of Shelby Township, Mich.; Juniper Elliot, of Flint, Mich.; Meghan Reid, of Rochester Hills, Mich.; Marissa Paul, of Sterling Heights, Mich.; Erika Perkola, of Sterling Heights, Mich.; Brittany Murty, of Rochester, N.Y.; and Erin Waddell, of South Lyon, Mich.

Many LITE participants matriculate at Kettering because of their pre-college experience. This year, seven young women from the 2004 LITE program enrolled in A-Section of the freshman class which began July 11. Another eight are slated to join the B-Section freshman class in October.

For more information about the LITE program, contact Betsy Homsher, Associate Dean of Students/Director Women Student Affairs, at 810-762-9540 or at




Written by Dawn Hibbard
(810) 762-9865