Community Voices: Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) And MSU Promote Long-Term Investments in K-12 STEM Programs

"For me, partnering with DAPCEP has allowed the College of Engineering to connect with intelligent, charismatic young people from the Metro Detroit area, students we might otherwise not meet, and expose them to all of the opportunities available to them at MSU. It has also allowed me to remain connected to the people, places and institutions in my home town. I remember the first time I visited MSU's campus and how impressed I was and how much I wanted to be a Spartan…my hope is to provide that same experience to DAPCEP students and families."

Theodore Caldwell
Assistant To The Dean For Diversity
Director, Diversity Programs Office
MSU College Of Engineering

The extraordinarily successful Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) is a nonprofit organization that provides historically underrepresented youth with innovative educational programming in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine. Founded in 1976, DAPCEP promptly began to seek out collaborative relationships with K-12 school systems and Michigan universities to help grow and improve the program, which currently serves 4,000 youth annually in partnership with eight Michigan universities and numerous public and charter school systems, corporations, and community-based organizations. For this issue of The Engaged Scholar Magazine, UOE staff members Carla Hills and Linda Chapel Jackson talked to Jason D. Lee, DAPCEP's executive director, about DAPCEP's ongoing partnership with MSU.

Tell us a little bit about your history with MSU.

MSU was one of our first university partners. Our relationship with MSU started in the MSU College of Engineering Diversity Programs Office with Dr. Gerald Thompkins. Dr. Thompkins left MSU in 1994 for Wayne State University; he's now at Kent State University in Ohio. Dr. Aurles Wiggins was the next director of the Diversity Programs Office at the College of Engineering before becoming the director of Supportive Services for MSU. Dr. Hiram Fitzgerald, associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement, has been on the DAPCEP Board of Directors since 2002. His extensive knowledge of evaluation, research, and the university culture has been impactful. MSU has been a strong and supportive member of the DAPCEP family.

The College of Engineering Diversity Programs Office is our major programming partner. Theodore Caldwell and his team do an outstanding job with our students. Drew Kim, the assistant to the dean for Recruitment and K-12 Outreach, also insures we have access to grant funded K-12 programs the College offers. Since its opening, DAPCEP has worked extensively with MSU's Detroit office; we have hosted several successful programs there, working with Jena Baker-Calloway and her team.

How is your work funded?

DAPCEP is a $3M nonprofit organization in the State of Michigan; we rely heavily on corporate sponsorships and grants to provide these tremendous opportunities for young people. DAPCEP has collaborated with MSU on federal and private foundation grants, including the National Science Foundation, NASA Space Grant, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, and the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. At MSU we've partnered with Engineering on university-led grants and corporate sponsorships. We have also worked with 4-H and Dr. Pamela Bellamy (director of GEAR UP) to place kids in summer programs. Collaborations keep us going and give the youth so many more opportunities.

What do you see as MSU's contribution to DAPCEP?

Young DAPCEP students sport molecule hats.

The MSU partnership is awesome. There is a significant demand for MSU courses on the main campus and the downtown Detroit location. The courses are rigorous; we really like to see our courses prepare children for the college experience and technical careers. MSU's courses have a reputation for doing that. The largest barrier is the cost for programming, a common issue in K-12 programming today.

We are hopeful that MSU sees the value in our work and continues to collaborate with DAPCEP on projects. Recently, Consumers Energy funded a summer program for 20 high school students at MSU. Students gained an extensive immersion into the world of energy and power generation. We are always looking for opportunities to expose our students to careers in demand; MSU plays a large role in supporting opportunities like this.

Dr. Fitzgerald has made a significant difference in DAPCEP and our evaluation work. He helped us boost our evaluation activities, Institutional Review Board (IRB) compliance, appropriate data systems, etc. We have a better understanding of IRB now. MSU training has helped us to keep better records and follow the IRB processes.

"Jason and his staff at DAPCEP have been partners with MSU and the MSU Detroit Center by sharing the University's mission in providing students with the building blocks to become engaged students and leaders in research and STEM careers and making advances that promote a quality experience for the community. In sharing both local resources and ideas, MSU's Detroit presence has grown, as well as our partnership in a variety of pre-college activities and the new expansion of the MSU Science Festival in Detroit."

Jena Baker-Calloway
Director, Michigan State University Detroit Center

What do you see as DAPCEP's contribution to MSU?

For MSU and all of our university partners, DAPCEP is a catalyst for identifying talented students from the Detroit area. Through our partnership, DAPCEP students gain access to the university environment. After completing a program at MSU our students often feel that college is now an option. Many of our students will be the first in their families to complete a post-secondary education; we are proud of our work supporting higher education and technical career pathways.

MSU's Detroit Center is a great community partner whose close proximity to DAPCEP enables collaboration and shared resources. We often expose our students to educational opportunities held at the Center.

Can you tell us briefly about outcomes for students participating in DAPCEP programs?

The vast majority of our students, more than 90%, graduate high school. Of those graduates, 80% are interested in pursuing a STEM career. The overall high school graduation rate for Detroit Public Schools in 2013-2014 was 71%.

DAPCEP programs are extremely impactful at the pre-K to middle school level; we really want kids to feel that math and science are fun! At DAPCEP, we strongly believe that a child must participate in supplemental educational programming in order to be college and/or career ready. This creates the academic foundation for success, especially for children coming from resource deficient school systems. If children and families are involved early, DAPCEP becomes part of their social construct. We like for students to text or go online with their friends and ask, "What DAPCEP program are you doing now?" and say, "I'm doing this one."

"MSU is committed to DAPCEP's mission, which is to increase the number of Detroit students who will graduate with interest in, and preparation for, higher education in fields related to engineering and supportive sciences. Jason Lee has initiated and managed significant re-organizations in DAPCEP programming in order to maintain a smooth alignment between DAPCEP educational experiences and the needs of a 21st century work force. We are delighted to play our small, though important, role in helping DAPCEP to achieve its mission."

Hiram E. Fitzgerald
MSU Associate Provost For University Outreach And Engagement

MSU has worked with us on developing our methods for determining outcomes. We are definitely becoming stronger with our tracking, because we are aware of how important it is to address outcomes, particularly as DAPCEP's history grows.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

MSU has been a tremendous partner over the years. Thank you MSU for supporting DAPCEP programs and the youth of our community and state! Thousands of DAPCEP students have graduated from high school and become students at MSU. DAPCEP is trying to connect with all of the students who have participated in the program, from the most recent graduates to those stretching all the way back to DAPCEP's beginning when it was founded and led by Kenneth Hill in 1976.

If you are a DAPCEP alum, please contact Maria Webb (MSU Class of '81) to tell your story about DAPCEP and how it impacted your achievements at MSU and future career aspirations. Help us continue the legacy by becoming a partner and giving back to the organization.

In 2016, we will celebrate 40 years of DAPCEP in the State of Michigan. We would not be here today if not for the generosity and engagement of Michigan State University.

  • Written by Linda Chapel Jackson and Carla Hills, University Outreach and Engagement

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