Last week, the Toyota USA Foundation named the University’s College of Engineering the recipient of a $150,000 grant. The grant will support the college’s 2005 Summer Engineering Academy — a program that targets middle and high school minority students throughout America.
The Toyota USA Foundation is a $40 million charitable endowment created by the car company to enrich educational programs for K-12 students in America. With a special emphasis on math and science, the foundation has spent a total of $650,836 this year to fund four educational programs, including the Engineering school.
The other award recipients include the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy and community programs in Stamford, Conn. and Santa Fe, NM.
Through the years the foundation has steadily supported the Engineering school, said Chundra Johnson, coordinator of the Summer Engineering Academy.
“We have established a relationship with (Toyota) because many College of Engineering students intern with Toyota and later become employees at the Toyota Tech Center,” Johnson said.
Other sponsors of the academy are the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program, Hewlett-Packard Company, NASA’s Glenn Research Center, the Engineering Research Center for Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems and Modern Technology Systems Inc.
Johnson said the grant from Toyota was given to the Engineering school in a private ceremony.
“The grant will go towards student expenses for the academy,” she said. “So students’ families won’t have to pay so much for their room and board, instruction costs and everything else that comes with the program.”
The academy was established in 1990 and offers engineering and technology instruction for high school students. The academy also tries to create a diverse environment by recruiting students from various ethnic backgrounds.
Last year, students came from 20 states and Puerto Rico. Johnson said the program has helped with University recruiting because at least 25 percent of academy students later attend the College of Engineering, while a higher percentage later attend the University itself.
“Students that come (to the academy) have been given (scholarships), and each year the University gives one student a full-tuition scholarship,” Johnson said.
During the summer of 2003, Engineering freshman Alexis Clark received the Engineering Scholarship of Honor from the academy, which awards full tuition for the University.
“I didn’t think that I was going to win the award,” Clark said. “Usually they give hints and it’s easy to tell who the winner will be. But I was really happy with the achievement.”
Because the academy was a memorable experience for Clark, she said the grant awarded to the college will help make a positive difference in another student’s educational experience.
“The Summer Engineering Academy helped me mature academically,” she said. “It was intense at times but fun. They gave a fair amount of work but showed us how to manage our time.”
The 2002 Engineering Scholarship of Honor recipient, engineering sophomore Ebon Hughes, also said that the academy was beneficial.
“The academy is part of the reason why I’m here,” Hughes said. “They really prepare you for college.”
Hughes said the academy provides its students with a real university experience. He described his experience as “college with training wheels”.
“The academy was helpful because not only did I get a taste of college life, but it helped me make connections (at the University),” he said. “It builds a support system.”