Source: Michigan Engineering News Center
Photos By: Joseph Xu

What’s happening in Detroit, with the help of the Michigan Engineering Zone, may help solve Michigan’s economic manpower problem.

Valerie and Tony Russell are rolling.

On a 90-degree day in late May, their SUV cruises the streets of Detroit’s Osborn neighborhood, their home.

Outsiders see Osborn as the sum of parts like those. They rehash nicknames like Red Zone, Murder Zone and, in a play on the area’s 48215 zip code, 4821-Die. In 2011, The Detroit News crunched statistics and labeled Osborn the city’s “deadliest neighborhood.”

The number to focus on here is 6099 – four digits that belong to a small group of students at Osborn High School. It’s their team number in the growing world of competitive robotics. It’s the number they carried with them all the way to the state championships in April – something Detroit public schools rarely do.

Small wins like this are visible around Osborn in recent years if you take the time to look. And it might be worth a long look. What’s happening in schools across Detroit through the national FIRST Robotics program has implications for individual neighborhoods, the city, the auto industry and Michigan’s economy as a whole. The University of Michigan’s Michigan Engineering Zone, an incubator for Detroit schools’ robotics programs known as the MEZ, is a small link between them.

Often overlooked pockets of Detroit, like Osborn, may be the greatest source of untapped potential Michigan has to offer. Schools in those areas often turn to the MEZ, located along Woodward Avenue, to get robotics teams up and running.

The story continues here.

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