The Oakland Schools Education Foundation has received $15,000 in grant money from DTE Energy Foundation to help supplement the cost of running the Oakland County Competitive Robotics Association (OCCRA), a countywide robotics league designed to provide students with firsthand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) experiences.

“We are thankful to the DTE Energy Foundation for contributing to such an important program,” said Michael McIntyre, Oakland Schools STEM coordinator. “Lower program costs for OCCRA enable more schools to participate and provide real-world STEM exposure to all students.”

“The DTE Energy Foundation is proud to support efforts that engage students in STEM and help prepare them for 21st century jobs,” said Faye Nelson, vice president at DTE Energy, and board chair and president of the DTE Energy Foundation. “The Oakland County Competitive Robotics Association provides an opportunity for students to challenge themselves – and each other – in a fun, collaborative environment. We wish all the competitors the best of luck for the upcoming season.”

OCCRA is a program where students in high school and middle school engineer and build competitive robots to compete in a sports-like game. It targets students in middle and high school (grades six through 12). In 2016, over 1,000 students from schools in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties have participated.

According to researchers at the U.S. Department of Education, between now and 2020, there will be a marked increase in demand for workers skilled in the technical disciplines of STEM. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states by 2018, there will be an estimated 274,000 STEM-related jobs in Michigan.

OCCRA is overseen by Oakland Schools’ Career Focused Education Department, which develops academic enrichment programs to help better prepare students in Oakland County to meet the future workforce demand for education and skills. These programs, such as OCCRA, which are supported by the Oakland Schools Education Foundation, are designed to enhance student learning by connecting the classroom education to the world of work.

Since it began in 2000, OCCRA has become one of Oakland Schools’ most successful academic enrichment programs, estimated to have positively impacted approximately 12,000 students.

The DTE Energy Foundation is a philanthropic arm of DTE that provides grant support for employment and education, environmental stewardship, economic progress and neighborhood revitalization.

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