Over 350 parents and students in grades 1-8 packed into the assembly hall of Donoghue Charter School in Bronzeville to hear from Dr. Percy A. Pierre, the nation’s first African American to receive a PhD in Electrical Engineering, and to register youngsters for the fall semester of the Chicago Pre-College Science & Engineering Program (ChiS&E). The program, presented by ChiS&E is held at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Dr. Pierre, a principal architect of the national minority engineering effort, opened by congratulating the parents and students just for “showing up.” Parents, he declared, should form a partnership with teachers for the education of their children. “Continue to show up for your children,” he urged, “particularly at PTA meetings.
Kenneth Hill, founder and president of ChiS&E, agreed. “Parent engagement is at the core of our program,” he stated. “We have been deeply influenced by Dr. Pierre who we hold in the highest esteem.”
Dr. Pierre’s inspiring message to the students provided a blueprint to a career as an engineer. Speaking of the rewards of the profession, he said “You can work on important problems and help improve the lives of people all over the world. You will be paid well and not have to worry about having a job,” He emphasized the importance of connecting with organizations such as ChiS&E at the high school, college and graduate school level to help them along the way. He stressed that many programs are free, but he also suggested taking advantage of scholarships and financial aid. Dr. Pierre encouraged students to focus on learning and growing so that they would have many options and concluded by encouraging them to always strive to be their best. “You don’t know how far you can go,” he said. “Therefore, don’t put limits on your ambitions.”
Following the presentation, parents lined up to ask questions and to learn more about ways they can support their children in pursuit of a future in engineering. “Encourage your children to have high expectations,” he said.
The Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program (ChiS&E) provides a pathway to a career in science or engineering. In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Colleges of Education and Engineering and Department of Mathematics, ChiS&E offers fun, hands-on learning activities on Saturday (three hours) for students in grades K – 8. ChiS&E offers four Saturday sessions each semester for grades 1 – 5, approximately six sessions per semester for grades 6 – 8, and four sessions in total for Kindergarten students. Parents of students in grades K-3 and 5th grade are required to be co-learners and attend classes with their children.
ChiS&E builds science, engineering, and math knowledge through grade levels K – 12; engages and empowers parents as valued partners in their children’s education; introduces and develops pre-algebra skills in early grades; and works with families to prepare students to succeed in undergraduate engineering and science programs in top universities
The program is made possible with the support of AT&T, BP, Colonel Stanley McNeil Foundation, Elasticsearch, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Peoples Gas, Albert Pick Foundation, University of Illinois at Chicago, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
About the Chicago Pre-College Science & Engineering Program
The Chicago Pre-College Science & Engineering Program provides highly-engaging, age-appropriate hands-on science and engineering activities for Chicago Public School (CPS) students in grades K-8 and their parents. The mission of ChiS&E is to increase the number of historically underrepresented African American and Latino students who are motivated and academically prepared to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).