By Dr. Pam Carpenter
Education Program Manager College of Engineering
North Carolina State University 

Dr. Pam Page Carpenter is one of those who never seems to have a shortage of energy. I should know. I get accused of that all the time, but Pam’s got me beat by miles.  She and I were talking a few months ago about her work with the K-20 community, and as if she didn’t have enough to do, volunteered to pen a series of pieces on the issue.  How fortunate for us all.  

Pam’s got some incredible street cred:  currently, she’s the Education Program Manager for the Masters of Science in Electric Power Systems Engineering at the Future Renewable Electric Energy and Delivery Management (FREEDM) Center and Electrical and Computer Engineering at NC State University.  She has developed and led programs in renewable energy and alternative transportation with a focus on and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts at NC State University for several years.  Pam has a passion for developing programs that are relevant to today’s needs and skills in industry and learning experiences that engage and immerse students in these topics through real world application and hands-on projects.  Pam received her doctorate in Technology, Engineering, and Design in the College of Education at NC State University where she is also an adjunct associate professor.  She’s wicked smart, engaged, and a good friend (and she drives my dream car).  Here’s her first installment.  Thanks, Pam.  jp

It’s a different world when a 9th grade young man awakens his parents early on a Saturday morning to attend school, but that is what is happening in urban Detroit these days.  It’s all due to a new program started by Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP), managed by Mr. Toine Murphy, project consultant.  The program provides an immersive learning environment for 9th grade boys to learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and clean energy. The program is called Renewable Energy Advancement for Detroit Youth (READY).

February 25, 2012 kicked off the season for the program with 120 students:  sixty 10th graders, who began as 9th graders in February of 2011, and now 60 new 9th graders.  READY fits with Michigan’s paradigm shift with the reinvention of manufacturing jobs, retooling the jobs from the traditional automotive to technologies that address clean energy like solar, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.  The Knight Foundation provided the majority of the funding with additional funding from the Skillman Foundation.  In-kind services are provided by United Automotive Workers-General Motors (UAW-GM) that provides space and resources in their office on the river in downtown Detroit.

There are two, eight-week sessions, one in the spring and the other  in the fall, and a two-week bridge program that takes place on a university campus in the summer.  The university experience allows students to encounter an academic climate and learn about culture and life outside Detroit.    The university experience is only one feature of the program, but there are others that address critical life skills. 

The components of the program include STEM and renewable energy, but also soft skills, building students’ self-esteem and trust, and leadership skills along with peer mentoring.  The program is focused on project engineering and science courses which provides students opportunities to work on real world projects that have relevance such as fuel cell technologies and solar while seeing that math can be interesting and applicable in life.  There are other skills such as how to prepare, dress, and behave at special events in Detroit and the university setting –which fork to use, how to network and other essential skills for success in life and career.  All of these have had an impact on other areas of the READY students’ lives.

The READY program is facilitated in partnership with Exam Experts Learning Academy, UAW-GM, Michigan State University, Oakland University, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, University of Detroit, Mercy, Lawrence Tech, Michigan Tech and Wayne State University.

As the READY students’ self-esteem rises, students are becoming empowered to know there are no limitations to what they do with their lives.  This is expanding outside the home into the community.  Service projects required in schools are now becoming focused on clean energy endeavors such as recycling.

The POWER OF ONE is a theme that is about change and the impact of how one can affect many others on multiple levels.  This message is loud and clear about making a difference and will certainly be an asset to our future citizens and leaders coming out of the READY project.

You can reach Pam directly at [email protected].