The Marburger STEM Center
Promoting Inclusiveness, Excellence, Creativity and Innovation
Lawrence Technological University
Profile submitted by Sibrina Collins
Vision and Goals
The vision of LTU's Marburger STEM Center is to be recognized as a global leader in STEM pedagogy from K-12 through graduate school.
STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) has been a part of Lawrence Technological University's "DNA" since the University's founding in 1932 next to Henry Ford's Model T factory. The Detroit region's only technological university, LTU focuses on the application of science and scientific principles in its teaching and research to meet industrial and business objectives. The University's Marburger STEM Center supports Lawrence Tech's offering of STEM and STEM-leading education on campus and beyond.
The center's executive director has a full-time (100%) administrative appointment in LTU's Marburger STEM Center, with no joint teaching assignments. The STEM Center has a part-time administrative assistant. The STEM Center hires current LTU students to serve as Ambassadors and deliver hands-on engaging workshops to K-12 audiences. Faculty in all four of LTU's Colleges (College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Architecture and Design and the College of Business and Information Technology) lead professional development workshops for K-12 teachers, Ask the Professor workshops and summer camps and Extreme Science sessions for high school students.
The executive director reports directly to the Lawrence Technological University President and CEO.
Are there advantages of being structured this way?
The advantage of the executive director with an administrative appointment only in LTU's Marburger STEM Center provides a "no silos" partnership approach with LTU faculty. This structure has led to programming that includes faculty in the humanities, architecture, business and media communication fields. The STEM Center serves a facilitator of important "cross-college" conversations.
Are there particular challenges that result from this structure?
It can be challenging to make sure that faculty, staff and students representing LTU's four Colleges are informed of programming updates and developments for the STEM Center.
The Marburger STEM Center is supported by the Office of the President. The Marburger STEM Center was established from a generous donation from an LTU alumni. However, we submit grant proposals to foundations to support our efforts.
How has this funding structure influenced the undergraduate STEM education programming the center offers?
Our Center focuses on three key components, namely (1) LTU faculty, students and staff, (2) industry connections and (3) community engagement. Thus, funding is used to support these key areas.
What are the specific advantages of having a center funded in this way?
The Marburger STEM Center does have institutional commitment for operating expenses and support.
What are the challenges?
Due to limited staffing and funding, we have to be diligent to balance requests we receive from departments and external partners and collaborators.
Has this funding structure has changed over time?
LTU's Marburger STEM Center was recently established in 2016, thus the institutional commitment for operating expenses and support has been consistent. We have been actively engaged with LTU Advancement to seek out external funding to support our STEM efforts.
Description of Programming
The Marburger STEM Center is the umbrella of STEM activities taking place on the LTU campus and beyond. These activities include our high school summer camps, hands-on Extreme Science program for high school students, Robofest, and a partnership with the Detroit Public Schools Community District entitled the Blue Devil Promise Program.
A Call to Action: Opportunities for Underserved Students
Many students who have experienced social-economic barriers often arrive in college without the academic preparation required for success in the STEM subjects. LTU in partnership with the Detroit Public Schools Community District, has established the Blue Devil Promise Program to mitigate this achievement gap.
Science and Technology Showcase
The Science and Technology Showcase is a signature Marburger STEM Center event to support LTU science and biomedical engineering majors. LTU students present a research poster and network with potential employers in their field of expertise. The Showcase is a collaboration with LTU Career Services and Medical Main Street, which represents companies that manufacture medical devices in Oakland County.
Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN)
With the support of the Kern Family Foundation, LTU is transforming the University's undergraduate engineering education by redesigning curricula to create an entrepreneurial engineering culture.
For nearly 50 years, Lawrence Tech has introduced high school students to the latest innovations in modern labs and studios using state-of-the-art equipment.
Robotics and Robofest
LTU's annual autonomous robotics competition for students in grades 5-12, Robofest partners with schools across the globe and involves over 1,700 children annually.
Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP)
Committed to increasing the number of minorities in the STEM fields, DAPCEP and Lawrence Tech partner to offer weekend and summer engineering and technology courses to students in grades 6-11.
Extreme Science Saturdays
This hands-on program gives high school students the opportunity to conduct experiments in LTU's science labs.
Successes and Impacts
Since our grand opening in September 2016, we have reached over 4,000 parents, students and teachers with our community engagement efforts. We track the numbers of participants attending our programming events. Our STEM programming efforts are documented through press releases and articles published in high-impact journals. One example is the article "Curricular Transformation and Hidden Figures: A STEAM Middle School Camp for DPS Students," which was published in the Michigan Science Teachers Association Newsletter in fall 2017. The MSTA Newsletter has a distribution list of science teachers across the State of Michigan. A recent example is the publication of "Black Panther, Vibranium and the Periodic Table," which was published in the Journal of Chemical Education in June 2018. This contribution has been downloaded over 6,000 times since it was published online. Both articles are collaborations with Lawrence Tech faculty and alumni.
Evaluation and Assessment
How does your center demonstrate its value, both in terms of assessing its own programming and responding to external evaluation?
We distribute paper surveys for feedback from our ongoing STEM events and programming. An assessment instrument has been developed to measure STEM identity, self-efficacy, and sense of belonging based on the literature for K-12 student audiences.
All programming for the STEM Center are aligned with LTU's motto "Theory and Practice." The Marburger STEM Center evaluates programming using a paper evaluation at the end of events such as Extreme Science Saturdays and various workshops such as the NBA and Mathematics, Lip Balm 101, and Hidden Figures: Let's Code Workshop.
Elements Contributing to Success
LTU faculty and staff are practitioners bringing their invaluable expertise directly in the classroom with current students and the community. This is the foundation for the success of LTU's Marburger STEM Center.