Students explore manufacturing and technology careers at Auto STEAM Days – The Macomb Daily

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Miriam Chapoton loves animals so she always imagined herself becoming a veterinarian.
But that could change.
“I might consider auto mechanics or engineering as a possible career,” said Chapoton, who was one of more than 2,000 middle school and high school students invited to explore careers in automotive technology and manufacturing during Macomb Community College’s Auto STEAM Days.
Chapoton also loves cars.
It’s a passion that she shares with her father, Stephen Chapoton, a roofer by trade but one who enjoys working on classic cars and hot rods. “I have an old Shelby Lancer that we’ve been working on together,” she said. “It’s a stick shift but we’re going to make it an automatic and add other new technology to it.”
“It’s going to be really cool,” she added, while pulling parts off an engine using an augmented reality (A/R) program provided by MCC. Chapton has worked on engines with her father so what she saw on the screen did not surprise or intimidate her. However, many of the students around her have never seen an engine let alone worked on one and the A/R program gave them the chance to do that.

“This helps students overcome their fear of technology and accelerates the learning process,” said Patrick Rouse, director of workforce and continuing education for engineering and advanced technology at MCC. “It’s hard to explain theory to a student who has never seen an engine or a robot.”
That’s where A/R comes in.
Students get acquainted with the technology on the screen and come to understand how things work better. The A/R technology is used for robotics and other fields of study including health care.Gone is the plastic skeleton with all of its bones and vital organs showing. Now medical students see the body through A/R technology.
“It’s been around for a while,” said Rouse, who was one of several people showing students some of the skills required for a variety of careers including coding.
“I think it’s pretty cool how we get to experience so many different things,” said Briana Thien, who was among the middle school students from Davis Junior High School, who had just finished programming a robot to follow different patterns.
“It’s neat for them to see what they can do and what’s really out there as far as careers,” said Amy Merlo, a teacher from Davis Junior High.
Another teacher next to Merlo agreed.
“We’ve been coming to this for years,” he said, of the two day event open to schools throughout Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and St. Clair counties. “The kids come back to school and they’re always excited by what they saw or what they learned.”
Representatives from Magna, General Motors, Ford, Siemens, Kuka, Leco and the Center for Advanced Automotive Technology led the hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, art and math. The activities not only highlighted areas of work but gave students the opportunity to meet people working in the industry like Catherine Troy, who works for MAGNA and after wowing the students with a video featuring the robot they created to deliver pizza showed a group of students how to program tiny robots using color codes.
“It’s been fun,” said Jack Pinkerton, who enjoys sports like soccer but also has an interest in math.
Jacob Boutorwick, Abigail Glynn and Elena Ferri, who are all ninth-graders from Austin Catholic School in Chesterfield Township got a big kick out of the clay modeling demonstration. “I love it,” Ferri said.
“The hands-on stuff has been great,” Glynn added. “I also like that what you’re working on is life size.”
Auto STEAM Days will continue through Thursday at MCC’s south campus in Warren.
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