By Tom Tolen /

A small but select group of Brighton High School graduates is involved in a summer partnership with a major computer software firm that is seeking to attract bright, motivated high school graduates interested in engineering careers.

The graduates participating in the program: John Cooke, Reese Simancek, Rick Miller, Carson Taylor, Devin Davidson, Gabe Tappen, and Grant Smith, are all former students of Brighton High School Engineering Technology teacher Matt Jourden. Jourden is also an adjunct professor in the College of Technology at Eastern Michigan University and Summer Institute lead teacher in the College of Engineering at Michigan State University. Jourden has been instructing Brighton students in CAD, an acronym for Computer Aided Design, for over a decade.

The sponsor of the partnership, which is in its first year, is Siemens Digital Industries Software, whose software includes the formulation of advanced designs for new products that eventually enter the marketplace.

Jourden says the Brighton students “were chosen because of the wide variety engineering skills (the) students are proficient in, which helps them advance in their careers after high school.” He says a number of his past students have been able to secure internships during their freshmen year in college, “based on the skill sets they have learned through the engineering program at Brighton High School.”

According to David Taylor, the official at Siemens who is in charge of the partnership, Brighton High School was the sole school chosen for the program because it was felt they got an excellent grounding in engineering in high school and were ready for the next level. Taylor says it is felt the Brighton students are as proficient in engineering as college sophomores and juniors.

Taylor calls the experience the students are gaining in the partnership invaluable. He says, “They’re working with people at Siemens who are knowledgeable with the tools, and they’re working in the real world with real cars and real planes.” Taylor says the experience the Brighton students are getting “is actually better than college classes.”

Although one extra-long class session took place at Siemen’s offices in Livonia, the other classes have been virtual because of the COVID coronavirus. Still, Taylor says due to the success of the pilot program, he plans to expand it next year and will invite other high schools with engineering programs on a par with Brighton to apply. The program began on June 1st and will continue through the end of this month.

The Brighton High School CAD and related programs have won, or placed highly in, a number of competitions in recent years. The FIRST Robotics Team won the world competition in Detroit in 2019, and many of the design and build team members were enrolled in the school’s engineering program. Also, at the American Society of Body Engineers Foundation’s Annual Student Design Competition, Brighton students took first place in the Engineering Design Competition three years in a row, from 2017-2019.

Jourden says all seven students chosen for the partnership with Siemens plan to enter a university in the fall and, needless to say, will major in engineering. Siemens Digital Industries Software is a division of Siemens AG, a multinational corporation with its US headquarters in Plano, Texas, outside Dallas, and world headquarters in Munich, Germany.

Photo: Brighton students involved in Siemens partnership, coupled with summer interns from various colleges and universities.