Kettering University student Harrison Ford ‘16 was one of 11 individuals appointed to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s MiSTEM Advisory Council on December 23.
The council was created to advise the governor, legislature, the Department of Talent and Economic Development and the Department of Education with recommendations designed to improve and promote innovation and collaboration in STEM education and prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The council is tasked with recommending a statewide strategy for delivering STEM education-related opportunities to pupils and objective criteria for determining preferred STEM programs by March 1, 2016.
"STEM education is a key part in making Michigan a world leader in talent. This group represents a cross-section of business, philanthropic, and K-12 leaders in STEM coming together to keep Michigan moving forward. I look forward to their recommendations and partnership,” Snyder said in a news release.
Ford, a Mechanical Engineering major, is a major advocate for FIRST Robotics. Currently, he serves as a mentor for the Flint F.I.R.E. FIRST Robotics team that is housed in Kettering University’s FIRST Robotics Community Center. Ford, along with Kettering President Dr. Robert K. McMahan, represented Kettering during the 2015 State of the State address in Lansing. Snyder specifically praised Kettering’s support of FIRST Robotics and STEM education in the address.
“I guess you could say that I was stunned that I would be chosen to be with the Governor on his biggest day of the year,” Ford said after being asked to attend the State of the State. “That’s a high honor that most people don’t achieve.”
Ford is also a former participant in FIRST Robotics and notes that it promotes the spirit of competition along with preparing students for life after high school. Ford has been involved in FIRST since sixth grade and was a member of Team 314 Megatron Oracles at Carman-Ainsworth High School in Flint Township.
“The thing that I most enjoy is that I get a new experience, a new challenge, a new opportunity every season that I’ve been in FIRST,” Ford said. “When I came to Kettering, there were no surprises. I was already prepared to take on new challenges because of FIRST."
Based on his own experiences, Ford views FIRST as a means to be trained technically and teaching high school students work as a team - both ideals that have been critical for him as he pursues his degree while completing his co-op at Flexible Products in Auburn Hills. However, Ford is also adamant that FIRST can be the foundation for getting a transformational college education.
“I really want to help kids get to college,” Ford said. “FIRST promotes competition but truly, I don’t care about competition, I care about getting these kids to college and helping them get scholarships for college That’s one of the reasons I changed teams as mentor because I wanted to help inner city kids in Flint go to college.”