Michigan’s University Research Corridor- Innovation and Education

Michigan’s three world class research institutions, Michigan State University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Wayne State create the University Research Corridor, contribute over 18 billion to the state’s economy, and impacts every county in both peninsulas, according to the 11th Annual Economic Impact report.

Educators should be pleased at the variety of programs created by these universities that directly benefit K-12 students.

Between 2013 and 2017, URC schools invested $250 million in 1,149 research, outreach and service projects.

K-12 Education Brief, University Research Corridor Website

These projects include Wayne State University’s Math Corps, which began in 1991 and provides summer camps and Saturday math help to Detroit students and boasts of “Ninety percent of its participants have graduated from high school since 1995, with eight out of 10 then going on to college.

Additionally, there are action research projects that are helping improve reading comprehension and understanding of science.

And they haven’t forgotten the A in STEAM, either, with the Verses project sponsored by Michigan State University which allows K-12 students to work with professional musicians and recording engineers, free of charge.

Their website is a valuable resource for educators wanting to learn about cutting edge research news that they can share with their students.
For example, what better way to make the periodic table come alive than with the great story about the Wayne State researcher, Timothy Dittirch, who is working on a way to extract rare earth elements, the lanthanides, in a way that is cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

Students might be fascinated to know that essential components for their cel phones and other consumer electronics are made from these elements and that China has controlled over 90% of the markets since the 1990’s.

One of the most exciting aspects of the corridor and the website is how it highlights the collaborative nature of the work of the researchers and educators at the university level.

While there might be a bitter rivalry on the court, when it comes to solving our state’s many challenges, a spirit of collaboration prevails.

This is noted in the profile, “Preserving Our State’s Freshwater Heritage.” Every Michigander cherishes our Great Lakes and our inland lakes and water supplies, and the recent controversies over Flint, Line 5, and PFAS chemicals in the groundwater make us realize how precarious our ecosystem is and how essential water is to our existence.

The University Research Corridor schools created a research and advocacy partnership, Infrastructure Network for Water (inH2O)

“Founded in March 2017, inH2O converts scientific research into practical applications to address water infrastructure needs in Michigan and across the country. The inH2O initiative will draw on expertise from corridor universities as well as national experts from academia, industry, and government to develop new strategies for improving infrastructure and protecting water resources. Carol Miller—codirector of WSU’s Healthy Urban Waters (HUW) program—explained, “It was a logical decision for these three universities to combine expertise in development of a nation-leading water infrastructure network. We expect inH2O to play a leading role in the research, maintenance, and implementation of numerous technologies and innovations relating to Michigan’s water resources” (URC 2017).”

Preserving our State’s Freshwater Heritage, URC Profiles

Collaboration, innovation, education- qualities exemplified by the University Research Corridor and values to be shared with our students.

I hope you find their work and their website an important resource as you continue on your journey of promoting cutting edge research ideas and literacy in the high school classroom!

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