VAI Voice

The Official Blog of Van Andel Institute
17 Aug 2016

The Academy of Modern Engineering summer program

The Academy of Modern Engineering (AME) – previously the Grand Rapids Area Pre-College Engineering Program, or GRAPCEP – is one of four specialized programs within Innovation Central High School administered by Grand Rapids Public Schools.

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2016 AME students Anthony Kirkland and Jayla Jones.

Since 2000, Van Andel Institute (VAI) has been a partnering institution hosting between 2-6 high school students each summer, a total of 59 students. VAI is privileged to be a part of this program which is helping to promote science as a career path.

This year’s students worked on projects related to bioinformatics and biostatistics, as well as investigations of neuronal DNA in Alzheimer’s disease. Students participate in an eight week program and are offered a stipend upon completion of the curriculum and a successful final presentation of their work. Student applicants identified at the middle school level are mentored through field trips, group events, internships and externships throughout middle school and high school. Prior to the start of their high school internship at the VAI, these students undergo intensive weekend training sessions to prepare them for working in the Institute’s scientific labs.

“Anthony has a real talent for programming and seems to enjoy it. He surpassed the project goals for the internship and has been able to expand his skill set to other languages! He has also been able to help other interns in the bioinformatics and biostatistics core with programming questions, which strengthens his own abilities.” – Megan Bowman, Ph.D., Lab Mentor

AME is one of the top performing schools in all of West Michigan with a 99% graduation rate and the only school in the region dedicated to preparing students for college and career success in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

Thanks to the support of the VWR Charitable Foundation, Van Andel Institute has been able to continue a long tradition of hosting these students through the AME program. Students have subsequently enrolled at (and graduated from) colleges such as Michigan Technology Institute, Michigan State University, Howard University and Hope College, along with some AME students choosing to pursue a Ph.D. or enroll in medical school. Van Andel Institute is thrilled to participate in the Academy of Modern Engineering program for the past 16 years and is looking forward to the years to come!