The annual Smarter Girls Camp returns to Kettering this weekend.

Founder of annual Smarter Girls Camp to receive 2015 Kettering University Human Relations Award

“We are also more interested in breaking down the societal barriers between women and engineering. We’ve offered a workshop on women in the media and how they are portrayed in movies and television shows.”

Marci McGuire '96 is the recipient of the 2015 Kettering University Human Relations Award. McGuire is an Engineering Group Manager at General Motors with responsibility for engine control algorithms. The Human Relations award recognizes graduates who have rendered significant contributions that inspire unity at Kettering, in the workplace, or in the community. The 2015 Alumni Awards Banquet will be held at the Troy Marriott, 200 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, MI 48084. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. Dinner and the awards ceremony will follow at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person and table sponsorships, which include 10 seats, are available for $900. For information or to purchase tickets, contact Laura DiFilippo in the office of alumni engagement at 888-884-7741 or

In 2001, the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority at Kettering University moved their chapter house to the Fairfield Village Neighborhood, east of Downtown Flint over the I-496 bridge. Marci McGuire ‘96 was the chapter advisor at the time and recalls the move being met with skepticism from their new neighbors.

“Our neighbors at the time were not happy that a sorority had moved into the neighborhood,” McGuire said.

At the time, McGuire was living in Brighton and despite her distance from Flint, she joined the neighborhood association to help ease the transition of the sorority into the neighborhood. One of the first suggestions she received as a member of the group was: why don’t you do something nice for the girls in this neighborhood? Why don’t you make a difference in the lives of the next generation of girls in Flint?

The result: Smarter Girls Camp, an initiative to engage girls in Flint in math and science.

“In the first year in 2004, I got five of the chapter sisters, collegiate members at the time, and we put on an overnight weekend camp for 15 of the girls in the neighborhood in Howell, Michigan,” McGuire said. “We created a curriculum for the camp and put on all kinds of math and science workshops for the girls.”

Marci McGuire '96
Marci McGuire '96

In 2005, the camp moved to Kettering University and transitioned to a day camp. It’s been held at Kettering every year since and will take place August 1-2 this year.

“I’m an alumna and because it was a math and science related, I thought it fit really well to bring the girls to campus,” McGuire said.  

McGuire graduated from Kettering in 1996 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She grew up in Blissfield, Michigan, a small town southeast of Adrian where her father worked as a tool and die maker for General Motors (GM) and Delphi. McGuire’s father inspired her to pursue engineering which eventually directed her towards Kettering.

“I think the size of the school fit my needs as well as the cooperative program was a major advantage,” McGuire said.

McGuire completed her co-op at GM Powertrain in Ypsilanti where she was hired as a controls development engineer after graduating from Kettering. Now, after over 20 years with GM, McGuire is serving as an engineering group manager for engine controls in Milford.

“I have never considered going elsewhere. My heart is in Michigan and with GM,” McGuire said.

McGuire describes the rate of technology advancement since she started with GM as “exponential.” Keeping up with and attempting to stay ahead of technology has been her greatest professional challenge but it has also helped her evolve the curriculum of the Smarter Girls Camp based on the rapidly changing needs of industry.

“We are now offering more advanced technology workshops. We are giving young girls exposure to computer and gaming coding,” McGuire said. “We are also more interested in breaking down the societal barriers between women and engineering. We’ve offered a workshop on women in the media and how they are portrayed in movies and television shows.”

All the instructors at the camps are female professionals working in science or math related fields. The goal is to foster mentoring relationships between the professional female engineers and the younger girls attending the camp. The camp has been expanded from just the Fairfield Village neighborhood in Flint to all of Michigan but the majority of the participants are still from Genesee County.

“We ask them how likely they are to consider math and science careers before the camp and after it and the likelihood always improves,” McGuire said. “Every year the girls overwhelmingly love the camps and the workshops that we are offering and they frankly want more.”

This summer marks the 12th consecutive year of the Smarter Girls Camp and the 11th consecutive year that it’s been held at Kettering University. With support from the GM Foundation, each year the camp has evolved but at its core, the mission has remained the same.

“The purpose and mission of the camp has remained the same since we started and that’s to help girls from ages 8 to 14 understand that math and science careers are available to them and are a good option for them,” McGuire said. “We create awareness for the next generation of female scientists.”