First Week of Classes Ignite Student Curiosity

It was an awesome first week at INNOVATE Albion, the new teaching center for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and robotics for Southwest Michigan in the heart of Downtown Albion. For its maiden voyage, seven eager students spent a week learning about the basics of computer-aided design (CAD) using Solidworks.

Classes will be offered all summer at INNOVATE Albion and are open to all students entering grades 6 through 12. The students who participated in the first class ranged in ages from 11 – 14 and represented three different schools from across Jackson and Calhoun county.


Getting creative with CAD.

Dr. Elmer Lee, INNOVATE Albion Board Member and Chief Exploration Officer at Conceptual Innovations, was the class instructor. As a long-time mentor, Dr. Lee was able to show the students that what they create on the computer screen can be translated into a real-life object. This was accomplished by using the in-house laser cutter to cut out the student’s designs so that they could take them home on the last day. The goal is that each student leaves a class session more interested in STEM in some way and excited about how they may apply what they’ve learned to something in the future.

InnovateAlbion_CADAs Dr. Lee describes it, “INNOVATE Albion allows us to expand our role as a teaching organization and allows us to extend our robotics program to neighboring communities. In turn, we can develop meaningful partnerships and help build a pipeline of talent that will remain in the region for a long time.”


Empowering students to understand real-life applications of STEM.

As a teaching center, INNOVATE Albion is committed to exposing youth to hands-on learning opportunities focused on STEM, and this opening class was a successful first step.

As the summer wears on, INNOVATE Albion welcomes the opportunity to meet many more students in the remaining classes. The second session of Introduction to Computer-Aided Design is underway currently open for registration and will run June 29 through July 3. Other courses and dates include:

  • July 6 – July 10: Introduction to Programming
  • July 13 – July 17: Introduction to Programming
  • July 27 – July 31: Advanced CAD
  • August 3 – August 7: Advanced Programming

An 11-year-old may be far from entering the workforce.  However, they are ready to have a place like INNOVATE Albion ignite a passion in them for learning and problem-solving in science, math, computers, and robotics. INNOVATE Albion is committed to fueling this passion as these students continue through middle school, high school, and post-graduation.

If you or someone you know has a student that is interested in learning about CAD (computer-aided design) or Programming, slots are still available in upcoming sessions. They are open to any student entering grades 6-12. For more details and registration at

*This blog was first published by Caster Cares, a corporate partner of INNOVATE Albion

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