AIMing at a brighter future

Aug 4, 2006

Students from across the U.S., Jamaica and the Bahamas have come to Kettering to get a taste of Science and Engineering careers in Kettering's award-winning pre college program for minorities.

Students serious about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math as potential career options have willingly given up five weeks of summer vacation before their senior year in high school, to sit through chemistry, physics and math classes and labs in Kettering University's Academically Interested Minorities (AIM) program.

Thirty eight such students were on campus from July 3 to Aug. 3 to get a taste of real college life at Kettering including classes with real homework and real networking opportunities with corporate executives from companies like Toyota, General Motors and Harley Davidson Motors.

AIM is a residential summer program for students entering 12th grade in the fall. Participants attend freshman-level courses Monday through Thursday in math, chemistry, computer programming, economics, physics and business management. Courses are taught by Kettering faculty who assign homework and give exams. AIM participants received a little extra help this year from Kettering student Tevita Skeine, of Jamaica, who is providing tutoring services while also working as a co-op student on campus in the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department.

The Physics project this year was to learn about acceleration due to gravity and projectile motion by designing and building bottle rockets out of two-liter plastic bottles and ping pong balls. The ping pong balls help break up the aerodynamic property of the rockets so they don't crash land, according to the AIM participants. Students used rocket design software to develop their own designs, and after judging by AIM faculty, fired their rockets during the last week of the program.

On Fridays during the program students were taken on tours of Kettering co-op employers to meet professional engineers and business managers. This year the group visited American Axle in Rochester Hills, Mich., Chrysler GEMA, in Dundee, Mich., the Robert Bosch Corp., in Farmington Hills, Mich., and Delphi World Headquarters, in Troy, Mich. At the end of the program scholarships are offered to the students who rank in the top 15 percent of their AIM class.

To be eligible for the AIM program, students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in high school math, chemistry and English; two years of algebra, one year of geometry, one year of chemistry with a lab and two years of English. They must also commit to attending the entire five-week course.

Since 1984 more than 700 students from across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean have participated in the AIM program. Each student is sponsored by a company or foundation. Corporate and foundation sponsors for this year are:

Bendix, Elyria, Ohio
BJS Business and Audit Systems
Robert Bosch Corp., Farmington Hills, Mich.
Clarksville Family Guidance, Clarksville, Tenn.
Delphi Steering Systems, Saginaw, Mich.
Delphi Corp., Troy, Mich.
GM Foundation, Detroit, Mich.
GM Powertrain, Detroit, Mich.
Harley Davidson Motors, Milwaukee, Wis.
Jamaica Public Service, Kingston, Jamaica
Kettering University, Flint, Mich.
Link 2 Technologies, Warren, Mich.
Plastech, Dearborn, Mich.
Rotary Club of Lucaya, Lucaya, Bahamas
Sunrise Rotary Club of Nassau, Nassau, Bahamas
(new) Toyota Motor Company
UPS Foundation, Atlanta, Ga.

Toyota, General Motors and Harley Davidson sent representatives to meet with students while they were on campus and to talk about continuing their sponsorship should the students decide to attend Kettering.

The success of the AIM program is seen not only in the number of students who matriculate at Kettering, but also in those who pursue higher education in the fields of medicine and teaching.

"I would say close to 100 percent of AIM graduates go on to college," said Ricky Brown, director of Pre-college Programs, "whether at Kettering or somewhere else."

So next July, when most recent high school graduates are enjoying their last summer before college, members of the 2006 AIM class may be heading to Kettering with a clear idea of what to expect of the college experience, and of themselves.

Written by Dawn Hibbard