Lives Improve Through Engineering

Aug 8, 2008

Kettering's pre-college program for 12th-grade girls sheds LITE on careers related to Science, Engineering, Technology and Math with lots of hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves experiences.

Analyzing car crashes in a salvage yard, isolating fat proteins in a Chemistry lab, performing simulated knee surgery and discussing the ethics of green business practices is a great way to spend your summer – at least that’s what more than 40 high school-aged girls thought when they signed up for one of Kettering University’s pre-college programs.

They came to Ketteringfor two weeks to learn about academic programs and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at the Lives Improve Through Engineering (LITE) program. The seven year-old program gave high school seniors (in the fall) hands-on experiences in Bio-Engineering, Bio-Chemistry, Structural Design, Crash Test Safety and Green Engineering from July 20 to Aug. 1.

LITE introduces young women to various fields and career opportunities in engineering, and highlights the importance of math and science in preparing for college. “It is important to keep girls engaged in math and science during junior high and high school so they are academically prepared to pursue Engineering in college,” said Betsy Homsher, director of Women Student Affairs at Kettering.

“Only 14 percent of all professional engineers are women,” added Dr. Patrick Atkinson, professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering. “Pre-college programs like LITE give young women a chance to find out what Engineering is all about and find their niche in the field of Engineering,” he said.

In addition to labs and lectures, LITE participants had an opportunity to meet women engineers and scientists and learn about how engineers improve people's lives by applying math, science and technology to human problems.

Getting a first-hand experience of how engineering helps people, the LITE participants assisted the Engineers Without Borders A-Section chapter complete its project to build a wheelchair ramp on a residence allowing a Flint-area woman greater mobility and independence.

This year's LITE courses included:
Biomechanics - the study of the mechanics of the human body, and how bones and muscles work and why, taught by husband and wife team Dr. Patrick Atkinson, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Theresa Atkinson, independent crash test safety researcher.

Vehicle Collision Analysis and Occupant Protection - accident reconstruction and occupant kinematics - the study of auto-accident reconstruction and how occupants interact with vehicle safety systems, taught by Dr.Janet Brelin-Fornari, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Biochemistry - the basics of biochemistry including the four main bio-molecules: proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids, taught by Dr. Ali Zand, professor of Chemistry and Dr.Stacy Seeley, Interim department head - Chemistry.

Engineering for a sustainable society - reducing the negative environmental impact of common products through their redesign and development of a drinking water filtration system for use in a developing community will compliment the business case for "going green" on a field trip to a “green” General Motors production facility.

This year's LITE participants were:
Miranda Adams, of Palestine, TX
Shannon Anderson, of Bay City, MI
Toni Rose Arceño, of Southfield, MI
Maricia Atkinson, of Chesapeake, VA
Hanna Aucoin, of N. Charleston, SC
Alicia Bargar, of Spartanburg    , SC
Camellia Bowie, Portland, TX
Amelia Brancheau, of Mancelona, MI
Stephanie Demerly, of Owosso, MI
Elizabeth Ernst, of Clarkston, MI
Christine Franzel, of Luck, WI
Amelia Games, of Hillsdale, MI
Ivette Guadarrama, of Hickory Hills, IL
Jenelle Gunderson, of Flint, MI
Shalyn Guthery, of Seymour, MO
Tiffany  Hawkins, of Alabaster, AL
Courtney Hetrick, of Frazeysburg, OH
Emma Hosman, of Ashland, MO
Katie Irons, of Niles, MI
Alexa Jones, of Metamora, MI
Kelly Krupinski, of Warren, MI
Meredith Leininger, of Marshall, MI
ChelsieLibrun, of Deerfield Beach, FL
Allison Lieblein, of Rochester Hills, MI
Amber McClellan, of    Franklin, OH
Sarah McClure, of Cartersburg, IN
Elizabeth Miller, of Sewickley, PA
Devon Rehm, of Clarkston, MI
Bryannan Santo, of Smithton, PA
Laura Seaman, of Enid, OK
Leigh Ann Seibert, of Canton    , OH
Jill Schubring, of Millington, MI
Jade Shreve, of Eldon, MO
Somin Song, of Naperville, IL
Kristine Spyker, of Lima, OH
Stephanie Stark, of Clayton, OH
Claire Swainson, of W. Bloomfield, MI
Elizabeth Talsma, Zeeland, MI
Paulina Torfeh, of Flint, MI
Rachel  Winkworth, of Plainwell, MI
Kelly-Anne Zayan, of Fenton,MI

In addition to the academics, participants also have a chance to get to know current Kettering students who serve as mentors to the program. Student mentors often take unpaid leave from their co-op jobs to be LITE mentors.

The 2008 LITE mentors were:
Marisa Mitchell, majoring in Electrical Engineering, from Maple Valley, WA
Rayanne Torok, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from Swartz Creek, MI
Brianna Iott, majoring in Bio-Mechanical Engineering, from Onsted, MI
Victoria Hills, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from Flint, MI
Jennifer Norman, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from Lake City, MI
Shannon Martin, majoring in Marketing Management, from Portland, OR
Tiffani Smith, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from Owosso, MI
Tracy Schmitz, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from Shelby Twp., MI
Erika Baker, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from Riley, MI
Casey Cramer, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from New London, OH
Amber Trickett, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from Howell, MI
Kathryn Zayan, majoring Mechanical Engineering, from Fenton, MI
Amanda Gaabo, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, Rochester, MI
Joy Jeyaratnam, majoring in Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, from Steubenville, OH
Brittany Murty, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from Rochester, NY
Shana Paciocco, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, from Canton,MI

For more information about the LITE program, contact Deborah Stewart, associate director of the LITE program in Student Affairs, at (810)762-9679 or via email at

Written by Dawn Hibbard
(810) 762-9865