Cleveland students wrap up Bridges to Higher Education program at CWRU

Bridges to Higher Education CWRUThey delved into human anatomy and learned CPR. They explored the engineering that goes into rebuilding a historic bridge. And they got a sense of the long, challenging path to becoming an entrepreneur.

Since last fall, 30 high school students from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District made monthly visits to Case Western Reserve University to learn about opportunities in higher education and how to prepare for a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

The program, called “Bridges to Higher Education,” is a partnership between Case Western Reserve and Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C).

The students, selected based on performance and leadership in their respective high school programs and interest in STEM careers, represent four of Tri-C’s youth programs: Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math & Science, Educational Talent Search and High Tech Academy.

Since October, they’ve experienced an interactive, inside view of the schools of medicine, engineering, law and management. The program concludes today with a luncheon and presentation of certificates of participation at Adelbert Hall with senior leadership from both institutions, followed by a visit to MediaVision for insight into video and digital production technologies and careers.

“While well known in academic circles, many of the people of Cleveland have only a vague idea of what happens in a world-class university and what opportunities the institution offers to the community,” said Robert Miller, Case Western Reserve’s vice president of Research & Technology Management. “This program introduces students not only to the academic aspects of the university, but goes behind the scenes to show what makes the university tick.”

Miller, who developed the program, credited Gail Schlang, a School of Graduate Studies alumna, for connecting the university with Tri-C’s Upward Bound Program.

Steven Lake, director of the Trio/Upward Bound Math & Science Program at Tri-C’s Metropolitan Campus, said the opportunities Bridges provided were something that high school students don’t often get to experience.

“Showing them this at such an early stage in their education helps guide them to think more critically about their academic futures,” Lake said.

The program, in essence, took them “backstage” at the School of Medicine. Last fall, the students made three monthly visits, meeting medical and graduate students, doctors, scientists, lab technicians and other professionals.

They studied physiology of the heart and lungs in an anatomy workshop, received CPR training and learned about various disciplines of medical research, including stem-cell research and multiple sclerosis.

At the Case School of Engineering, the students attended the E-Week Engineering Challenges Carnival, which included hands-on games and activities. They spoke with CWRU students about what’s involved in pursing an engineering degree, and met with professor Dario Gasparini, who led a tour of the Structures Lab and explained the different disciplines within civil engineering. The students also examined the 13,000-pound wooden trusses of an 86-year-old New Hampshire bridge that Gasparini and his team of civil engineering researchers are studying.

At the Weatherhead School of Management, the students learned about what it takes to become an entrepreneur from MBA student JeShaune Jackson, who talked about two businesses he is creating. They then used their imaginations to dream up a business and complete a marketing plan.

At the Law School, they discovered the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic, where students get involved in law cases, and participated in a discussion about the field of law with faculty, staff and students.

The students represented East Tech, Garrett Morgan, James Rhodes, John Marshall, Lincoln-West, Thomas Jefferson, New Tech, John Hay, Whitney Young and School of the Arts.

“It’s been extremely valuable for students and staff, just by establishing a relationship with an institution like CWRU,” Lake said. “The willingness of the staff at Case Western Reserve to provide open arms has been tremendous, and the students are now more excited about their futures, because they have been exposed to some things they hadn’t even considered. It’s like seeing a lightbulb that had been off suddenly go on.”