Sibrina Collins, executive director of LTU’s Marburger STEM Center, spoke in a panel discussion focused on improving diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) occupations at the Technology in Motion (TIM) Detroit conference, an event showcasing advances in autonomous and connected vehicles. The event was held Sept. 6-8 at Cobo Center in Detroit.
The panel, entitled “Solving the STEM Talent Problem Through Diversity,” was moderated by Don Hutchinson, dean of engineering, manufacturing and industrial technologies at Oakland Community College. Other panelists were Seun Phillips, vice president of education and engagement at the Michigan Science Center; Chris Ciuca, director of pre-professional education for SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers); Shannon Zuniga, director of the M-STEP Academies at the University of Michigan, and Angela Thompkins, head of diversity, inclusion, employee experience and talent acquisition for Consumers Energy.
Each of the panelists provided an overview of the ongoing programming efforts at their organizations and institutions to solve the STEM talent gap, specifically in Southeast Michigan. Collins’ remarks focused on the Blue Devil Scholars Program, also known as the Blue Devil Promise, an innovative partnership with the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) to enhance STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture/Art, and Mathematics) education in DPSCD institutions. Collins said one of the challenges that limit diversity in the STEM fields is effectively engaging colleagues to support diversity and inclusion efforts. “You have to work with your colleagues who ‘get it’ first and make an impact,” Collins said. “Your other colleagues will eventually come on board and want to contribute and be a part of the effort.”
LTU’s new Autonomous Campus Transport (ACT) vehicle was also on full display in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue as part of the Detroit Moves and the TIM Conference in Detroit. C.J. Chung, LTU professor of mathematics and computer science, and LTU computer science students, Nicholas Paul and Mitchell Pleune developed the software for the ACT vehicle. “LTU’s ACT vehicle is a great tool and environment for our computer science students to learn about an innovative field that becomes a new industry,” Chung said. “Developing self-driving autonomous vehicles requires the development of an intelligent software system that senses environment, analyzes data, and controls the vehicle, with self-learning capabilities.”
The ACT is equipped with two webcams to detect traffic signs and a drivable pathway for the vehicle. In addition, the ACT vehicle also has a laser to detect obstacles in the pathway. Interested in learning more about LTU’s ACT? Visit the website address at the end of this video