Engineering & Science and partners win Marshall Plan for Talent Innovation grant

December 20, 2018

Students work on a robotics project.The State of Michigan’s Talent and Economic Development Department and Department of Education recently announced the first round of Marshall Plan for Talent Innovation Grant awardees. And University of Detroit Mercy’s College of Engineering & Science will play a significant role in this important new effort.

Nine talent consortia representing 260 entities, received a total of $15 million to help improve the state’s talent development and education excellence system. The grant funding will help start and grow innovative education models, solidifying Michigan’s recent historic investment in its education and talent revolution.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent is one of the great things we have going on in the state – it’s an investment in our young people and their futures,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “This plan is at the forefront of improving our education and talent development practices. It also ensures Michigan’s young people have an opportunity to earn a rewarding, high-demand, high-wage career, for the next five years and for decades to come.”

The awarded consortia represent a diverse group of businesses, K-12 districts, postsecondary educational institutions and other entities, including 64 school districts – small and large – 90 businesses, 33 postsecondary institutions, 16 industry associations, 10 Michigan Works! agencies and 47 nonprofit and other organizations. The funding benefits more than 150,000 students and their communities statewide.

Consortia shaped their applications around five key and high-demand, high-wage sectors: healthcare, information technology/computer science, manufacturing, professional trades and other business trades.

“The Marshall Plan is about building partnerships – it was a call for schools and businesses to innovate and rethink how we go about preparing our young people for the future,” Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles said. “Michigan overwhelmingly answered that call. Today, we celebrate their efforts that will make tomorrow brighter and ensure Michigan becomes a Top 10 education state.”

Detroit Mercy’s College of Engineering & Science is helping to lead the Detroit Robotics Consortium, which received a grant award of $653,000. This group will work to develop the Innovating Detroit’s Robotics Agile Workforce (iDRAW) Program, an effort that will provide multiple career pathways into high-demand professions in information technology, computer science, manufacturing and skilled trades. Key elements of the program include: 

  1. Engineering and technology embedded into required high school courses.
  2. Industry-responsive dual enrollment courses. 
  3. Participation in First Robotics.
  4. Summer programs
  5. Work experiences.

Students will also receive training and practice in critical thinking, project management, leadership and communication.

The Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation (DHDC) serves as convener for the Detroit Robotics Consortium. DHDC’s Robotics Engineering Center of Detroit (RECD) program also provides a strong foundation for the planned work. The primary public school partners are Melvindale High School and Cesar Chavez Academy High School, in addition to several area schools that will play important roles as partners in Detroit Robotics Consortium. Melvindale High School will serve as the consortium’s fiscal agent.

The consortium will have a high-demand industry focus on manufacturing, professional trades, IT and computer science. Additional project partners include 

  • Melvindale-Northern Allen Park School District.
  • Cesar Chavez Academy.
  • District Wayne RESA.
  • General Motors Corp.
  • FANUC.
  • DTE Energy.
  • American Axle Manufacturing.
  • The Ideal Group.
  • Brose North America.
  • Martinrea International.
  • University of Detroit Mercy.
  • Henry Ford College.
  • SEMCA.
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
  • Engineering Society of Detroit.
  • The City of Detroit.
  • Detroit Hispanic Development Corp.
  • FIRST Robotics.

Katy Snyder, dean of Detroit Mercy’s College of Engineering & Science, is thrilled to be a part of this important work, since its impact will help kick-start an even more comprehensive initiative at the University.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent will assist our College in building a network of support and opportunities for students and high school teachers to provide pathways for students to STEM careers,” Snyder said. “This initiative will enhance our efforts to implement a new workforce development model called iDRAW – Innovating Detroit’s Robotics Agile Workforce, in partnership with Indiana University’s successful iDEW – Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce program,” she added.

Detroit Mercy’s partnership with Indiana University and this new program model will offer innovative, group and project-based curriculum throughout the year for all four high school years. Additionally, students will experience industry visits, professional talks, mentorship and internships that will engage and prepare them for college and work-readiness. Another important factor of this educational model is the engagement of community organizations like the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation and local high schools to increase the number of underrepresented minorities and women who study Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines in college and pursue careers in these fields. Through these efforts, Detroit Mercy and project partners can help fill critical workforce shortages among STEM-related industries in Southeast Michigan and the City of Detroit.

“Michigan students win when we all come together to develop creative and innovative solutions to better prepare them for the future and lifelong learning,” Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan Chief of Staff Jeremy Hendges said. “Today’s awardees have truly innovative plans to reinvent our education system and state, and we’re excited to see them get to work in preparing all Michiganders for the high-demand, high-wage careers of today and tomorrow.” 

Overall, the Detroit Robotics Consortium expects to benefit 3,810 students across the state.

To learn more about the Plan for Talent Innovation, please visit For more about the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan (Ted) please visit

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the State of Michigan’s Talent and Economic Development Department and Department of Education for the use of their press release in the writing of this story.