August 28, 2017 | Dearborn, MI
Student-Led Projects Highlighted at First Ford STEAM Day Event

Ford Motor Company is committed to STEAM education – encouraging today’s youth to learn more about science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. As part of that commitment, the Ford STEAM Council, which designs, develops and delivers STEAM programs to grow a talent pipeline for Ford, held an inaugural Ford STEAM Day on June 20 at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.


The threefold goal of the event was to help increase employee awareness and reinforce the importance of STEAM education, showcase the successes of students from Ford-funded initiatives who use critical thinking to develop solutions to real problems in today’s society, and encourage more employees to get involved and be ambassadors of Ford’s efforts to become a global thought leader in STEAM.


“There is a big gap between STEAM talent needs of the future and the skilled workforce that is currently available,” said Prashant Javkar, strategy and programs manager for Ford’s corporate STEAM team.


He said that’s why Ford’s investment in STEAM education and programs is crucial, as data shows employers like Ford will need to fill about 5 million STEAM-related jobs in the United States in the next five years.


Tyler Harris, a former member of the FIRST® Robotics team at Plymouth-Canton High School in Michigan, said when he joined the team, he wasn’t sure he was interested in engineering or STEAM. His experience with FIRST® Robotics changed that.


“My team won the World Championship in FIRST® Robotics, and I had so much fun and I learned so much that it made me change my mind about what I wanted to do in life,” he said.


Harris is now a freshmen at Kettering University in Flint, Mich., studying mechanical engineering. He said attending the STEAM Day event opened his eyes to other students who have experienced some of the same things he has.


“It was really interesting to hear from others about problems in other parts of the country and how people my age are trying to go out and solve it through STEAM,” Harris said.


Alexander Lowe, an eighth-grader at the Newton College and Career Academy STEM Institute in Newton County, Georgia, also attended the STEAM Day event, showcasing his project, The STEM Extension. Newton County gave Lowe and his school access to a surplus bus that they take around the community to educate residents on STEAM.


“This is a mobile way to inform people about STEAM in Newton County, because there are a lot of areas where people don’t have the resources to learn about it otherwise, and in the future they won’t be able to teach their kids,” he said. “This is a way to directly disrupt the continuous cycle that’s happening within certain areas of the county.”


Lowe said Ford Next Generation Learning has helped him and his school with funding for the STEM Extension project, with a $5,000 grant, kick-starting something that normally would have been pushed aside. For his area, mobile education is important, with several manufacturers who have built factories in the area and have available positions, but don’t have the proper amount of workers to fill them.


Javkar said Ford’s outreach is also meant to give the company an opportunity to learn about the community.


“We would love to have these kids come back as interns and maybe even employees one day,” he said. “Events like this might get them to consider Ford products in the future because of how we touched their lives early on.”