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Engineering Enterprise Alliance: A K 12, University And Industry Initiative To Create A Pathway To Engineering And Science Careers

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Engineering in High Schools

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.629.1 - 12.629.11



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Paper Authors

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Douglas Oppliger Michigan Technological University

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Shawn Oppliger Copper Country Intermediate School District


Mary Raber Michigan Technological University

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Ms. Mary Raber is the director of the Enterprise Program at MTU. In this role, she secures funding and projects from external sources, oversees day-to-day operation of the program and teaches various instructional modules in the curriculum. Prior to Michigan Tech, Ms. Raber worked in the automotive industry for 14 years, holding various positions in engineering and management. Mary holds a B.S.M.E from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. from Wayne State University.

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Robert Warrington Michigan Technological University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Engineering Enterprise Alliance A K-12, University and Industry Initiative to Create a Pathway to Engineering and Science Careers


Since the fall of 2000, Michigan Technological University’s undergraduate Enterprise Program ( of cross-disciplinary problem solving and product generation has created active learning environments for undergraduate students across campus. Teams of students from a variety of disciplines are given an opportunity to work in a business-like setting to solve real-world engineering problems supplied by industry. Through participation in the program, Enterprise students are able to develop technical competence as well as an understanding of the practical application of skills and knowledge in areas such as communication, business, leadership, teamwork, global competition, and entrepreneurship.

Michigan Tech strongly believes that in order to increase the number of students who select to enroll in technical programs, students must be introduced to engineering and science while they are in elementary and secondary school. The hands-on educational model of the Enterprise Program has been very successful in generating an excitement about engineering and science at the undergraduate level, so expanding this model to the K-12 system would seem to be a natural progression.

Michigan Tech is in the process of working with high school teachers in local school districts to create an Enterprise-like model that builds upon the success of the undergraduate program, yet is tailored for the secondary learning environment. A joint team of MTU and high school faculty and administrators have been working together to develop a precollege-enterprise experience designed to introduce and involve students in engineering and technology. Project based, contextual learning experiences will be the foundation of the program, and are intended to increase the technological awareness of the future workforce. Our goal is to develop and implement a model at the regional level that can be readily transferred to the state and national levels.

This paper will summarize the process used at Michigan Tech to develop a pre-college enterprise program structure, the model to be piloted in fall 2007, and associated challenges encountered such as driving change in the high school curriculum, development of a support structure and proposed mechanisms to sustain the program beyond the pilot year.

I. Background

In 2004, Michigan’s Lt. Governor’s Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth (“Cherry Commission”) was tasked by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to formulate policy recommendations to achieve three goals:

Oppliger, D., & Oppliger, S., & Raber, M., & Warrington, R. (2007, June), Engineering Enterprise Alliance: A K 12, University And Industry Initiative To Create A Pathway To Engineering And Science Careers Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2423

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