Rhonda Clarke '16 (right) with LaShyla Nelson '16 (center) and Chelsea Reeves '17.

AIM program inspired Flint native to study Industrial Engineering at Kettering University

“My heart is in the Flint community. I feel like there’s a lot that needs to be done and I’d like to help with the revitalization of the community."

Rhonda Clarke ‘16 has always had a passion for math and science but she wasn’t sure how her interest and skills could be expressed at the collegiate level and beyond.

So she followed in the footsteps of her older brother and sister who participated in the Academically Interested Minds (AIM) summer program at Kettering University in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

“I wanted to figure out exactly what engineers do and if I would like engineering,” Clarke said.

AIM is a five-week residential pre-college summer program which began in 1984 and has continued to thrive over the years. The program is designed to augment Kettering's efforts to reach a greater number of multicultural students who have a strong interest in the areas of engineering, math, science and business.

One of the classes that Clarke took during AIM in 2011 was computer programming with Dr. Pete Gheresus, professor of Industrial Engineering at Kettering and a co-founder of AIM in 1984. He gave a speech explaining the field of industrial engineering and the opportunities afforded to prospective Kettering students.

“His message was very inspiring,” Clarke said. “After that, I wanted to take part in what Kettering had to offer.”

Clarke, a graduate of Flint Southwestern Academy, traveled down the road to Kettering to major in industrial engineering. She completed her co-op at Brose North America in Auburn Hills where she has worked on safety and design elements of automobile seats amongst other things. She will work for Brose full-time after completing her coursework at the end of September 2015 but still wants to remain in Flint, a place she’s called home him since 2000.

“My heart is in the Flint community,” Clarke said. “I feel like there’s a lot that needs to be done and I’d like to help with the revitalization of the community. Wherever and whatever I can do to help out, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Clarke is also entering her third summer as a mentor for AIM. In this role, she hopes to help pass along the skills she learned during her tenure in the program. Specifically, the condensed and intense nature of the AIM program prepared her for the Kettering curriculum and how to engage and work with others on a very short time frame. Before entering AIM, Clarke believed that there was only one type of engineering, mechanical, but after participating in the program she was exposed to the greater world of the sciences which eventually led her to major in industrial engineering.

“In AIM, I was able to become educated on what types of things engineers do and what the field offers,” Clarke said.” It’s good exposure and the hand-on activities show that engineering is also fun.”

Written By Pardeep Toor | Contact: Pardeep Toor - ptoor@kettering.edu - (810) 762-9639