Utica Community Schools CTE academy receives $1.2 million donation through private donor
Utica Community Schools CTE academy receives $1.2 million donation through private donor
Posted on 11/28/2018
Students posing with a circuit board

A Utica Community Schools Career and Technical Education (CTE) academy has received a $1.2 million donation from a private donor.

The Stevenson Manufacturing, Automation and Design Engineering (MADE) academy, which opened this year, has received the private contribution based on the district’s proven history of effectively bridging the gap between student skills and industry needs, superintendent Dr. Christine Johns announced.

“We greatly appreciate the generous support for an innovative program that develops skills in graduates that businesses need for our region’s future economic growth,” superintendent Dr. Christine Johns said. “The donor was clear that the district’s reputation for educational innovation and its commitment to academic excellence were the driving force for the investment in our students.”

Dr. Johns noted that in providing financial support, the donor – who requested to remain anonymous – specifically targeted accelerating the opportunity for students by funding start-up costs, professional learning opportunities for teachers and fabrication and manufacturing equipment that provide students industry-level experiences.

“What Utica Community Schools is once again doing is leading the effort to realize how much times have changed and how much education has changed,” U.S. Congressman Sandy Levin said at a recent MADE open house. “I want to take my hat off to this school district for once again providing the leadership that is so necessary. You are the wave of the future, and may other places catch this wave.”

The professional development opportunities featured training provided by the Henry Ford Learning Institute, which demonstrated how to integrate the Design Thinking process into core classes and courses dedicated to the MADE pathways.

Students are immersed in the Design Thinking Process (empathy, define, ideate, prototype test) through projects in small learning communities. The projects focus on hands-on skills in math, science technology and engineering as it applies to advanced manufacturing.

The donation also funded equipment for the fabrication program, including a plasma cutter and vertical and horizontal saws.

The district also acquired Snap circuits and Vex Robotics equipment to give students hands-on experiences for advanced manufacturing careers.

Stevenson MADE began in September with 85 ninth grade students. A new grade level will be enrolled each of the next three years, until Stevenson MADE is a complete high school program that will serve nearly 400 students.

Parents and area community leaders recently attended a dedication and open house to introduce MADE.

“Utica Community Schools is a driving force in how we reconnect with these kids and give them an opportunity to see what’s out there,” County Executive Mark Hackel said at the event.  “With what you see happening here, the students truly have it MADE.”