Engineering academy for girls moves to Lawrence Tech in 2020

SOUTHFIELD—Lawrence Technological University will join The Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD) in hosting ESD’s Girls in Engineering Academy (GEA) for the coming year.

The 2020 GEA program has been made possible by generous support from The Holley Foundation and the PNC Foundation.

Thirty middle-school girls will be selected by ESD to attend a four-week summer session running from July 6 to July 31, 2020, on the LTU campus in Southfield. The program will provide math and science enrichment classes; English and language arts education; hands-on project-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities; life skills development; mentoring; pre-college experiences; and engineering career exploration. The GEA program will present academic subjects to the students, as much as possible, from a female’s perspective. Each component of the program has been designed—with input from women engineering faculty, undergraduate and graduate students from Detroit-area universities—to capture the interest of and to further motivate these young women in the direction of selecting an engineering major for a career choice after high school graduation. Classes will be taught by female undergraduate and graduate engineering and STEM majors.

The GEA program, now entering its fourth year, will continue during the 2020-21 academic year, administered through LTU’s Marburger STEM Center. The selected students will meet two Saturdays per month for three-hour sessions. Students will continue to learn about various engineering disciplines and careers, while at the same time strengthening their academic skills. Students will also focus on STEM activities to reinforce concepts learned over the summer and during the school year.

“This partnership will enable our GEA scholars to experience the rich history of LTU and the innovative technology of its College of Engineering,” said Gerald Thompkins, program manager at ESD. “Every effort will be made to provide the GEA students with a realistic view of the challenges, benefits and excitement of an engineering education.”

The Girls in Engineering Academy is designed to improve academic achievement and increase interest in engineering among girls. ESD’s overall goal for this program is to decrease the gender disparity in engineering professions by helping girls to excel at STEM subjects and eventually to go on to pursue engineering careers. According to Robert Magee, ESD’s executive director, “GEA’s key objective is designed to ameliorate the gender and achievement gaps by introducing STEM concepts at an early age—middle school. We believe that an early exposure to STEM programs like GEA will help girls understand the importance of STEM careers, but also prepare them academically for high school.”

Said Ric DeVore, PNC regional president for Detroit and Southeast Michigan: “As a Main Street bank, PNC is committed to supporting valuable educational experiences for children of all ages. This exciting program offers significant STEM educational activities that will spark interest in careers in engineering and technology.”

Female and male students perform equally well in mathematics and science on standardized tests, but there has been a long-term gender gap in STEM and engineering education and achievement, particularly among underrepresented minority females, Thompkins noted.

“We think this is important because encouraging women in engineering is important,” said the Rev. George M. Holley, program chairman at The Holley Foundation. “We are delighted to be able to partner with Lawrence Tech and The Engineering Society of Detroit as well. We’ve had some great programs and partnerships with the university over the years, and there’s no reason to believe this will be any different.”

Holley’s grandfather, an automotive engineer who co-founded Holley Carburetors, established the Holley Foundation in 1944. “My grandfather’s goal was to help young men and women get an education by giving scholarships to men and women on the shop floor at Holley Carburetors,” Holley said. The Girls in Engineering Academy is a logical extension of that work, he added.

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (, actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

Lawrence Technological University,, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 15 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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