Detroit Cass Tech senior LaMarcus Collier was awarded $40 for his participation in the DRIVEN IX Automotive Careers Youth Symposium at the Michigan Science Center Monday morning. But that was not the best part of his day. Collier has been interested in engineering since he was younger, attending DAPCEP (Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program) and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs. The DRIVEN IX Youth Symposium solidified that being an engineer is the path Collier wants to take.
“Being able to have first-person encounters with people that have done or are doing what I want to do and being able to ask them questions that’ll help me move on to the next level was the best part of today’s event,” said Collier.
Students from three Detroit Public Schools Community District high schools, Pershing, Cass Tech, and Henry Ford, had the opportunity to attend a STEM workshop, watch the Extreme Weather 4D movie in the TOYOTA Engineering Theater, and have a panel discussion with black professionals in the fields they are interested in.
The panelists included Raj Register, Head of Brand Strategy and Growth Audience Marketing for Ford Motor Company and Stephen Lewis, President of DAPCEP Board of Directors.
Educating youth about the vast career path opportunities that exist in automotive today is critical to fueling the industry’s workforce pipeline with young, talent across all segments. The DRIVEN IX Automotive Careers Youth Symposium is an opportunity for industry professionals to connect with the next generation of leaders and showcase these diverse pathways.
“I wanted to come here today to make sure that these young people know that there are opportunities out there that hits their objectives and desires,” said Register, who is a graduate of DPSCD’s King High School. “I hope that they go back and refocus, in terms of what their goals and objectives are and how quickly they can put together actions plans in order to achieve their goals.”
With an ever-changing landscape of what “working in automotive” means, the symposium’s goal was to expose students to a broader perspective of career opportunity within. The panel discussion was moderated by Marc Bland of IHS Markit, a Cody High grad, and comprised of established professionals and entrepreneurs speaking frankly about their personal journeys to success while providing advice to help students to set and attain goals for the future.
Like many of the students, Lewis came from an underserved neighborhood and school system, hailing from the Southside of Chicago and said there needs to be more programs like the DRIVEN IV Youth Symposium and others, exposing youth to advanced career opportunities.
“There needs to be more inclusion and opportunities for our youth and that starts with DAPCEP and programs like DRIVEN,” he said. “Our young people need to be armed with information to allow them to be able to fulfill what they plan to do in college and beyond. Information is power.”
With Detroit being the Motor City and the North American International Auto Show in town, Detroit is the perfect entry point for early-stage innovative startups and students to build up a network with the industry. If you are building anything innovative in the automotive mobility industry, you are going to pass through Detroit at some point.
“Mobility is a wide open and field and these young people have it made if they seek the opportunities,” said Bland. “I wish I was younger still and given the opportunities these young people have today. We didn’t have any of this, so they have a head start. There is such a vibrant opportunity in mobility here in Detroit and these young people have the chance at taking a slice of that and turning it into something positive for their families.”