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Michigan Retaining Tech Talent With $10K Scholarship

Michigan launched the EV Scholars program, a $10,000 scholarship for students who accept job offers as electric engineers or software developers at 15 companies partnering with the state, to staff growing industries.

(TNS) — Growing up, Morghane McAnelly played with her dad’s model cars. This summer she’ll work on the life-size version during her software engineering internship at Ford.

McAnelly, 21, is among Michigan’s first cohort of EV Scholars, students who are interested in joining Michigan’s growing electric vehicle and mobility sector.

The state announced a $10,000 scholarship would be waiting post-grad for students who accept job offers as electric engineers or software developers at 15 Michigan companies partnering with the state. To cash in, students must agree to stay in state for a full year, boosting Michigan’s tech talent pool.

Students in tech fields at Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Michigan Technological University were offered to join the scholarship program. Since announcing EV Scholars on March 2, the state has received applications from 298 students.

The state identified four key roles making up 65 percent of job openings in the auto industry: electrical engineer, software developer, first-line supervisors and assembly.

The scholarships — $10,000 to the first 350 graduates who accept jobs, in addition to $5,000 for internships — are funded through Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Talent Action Program.

The Talent Action Program is focused on supporting the electrification of Michigan’s core industry, said Kerry Ebersole Singh, Chief Talent Solutions & Engagement Officer.

“It’s been a priority to safeguard not only the heritage we’ve seen over the 100-plus years here in the state, but also looking forward to continue our global leadership in the industry,” she said.

The overall goal to keep gearheads and tech nerds in Michigan builds off of that Motor City legacy.

McAnelly, a junior at Michigan State University, learned her love of cars from her father, an area sales manager for then-Chrysler. They bonded over test driving new models and visiting car shows together in metro Detroit.

Despite the family allegiance to a different Big Three company, McAnelly decided at 13 her dream car was a Ford Mustang.

Entering college she saw automotive as more of a hobby than a career. At MSU she set herself on a pre-law track specializing in technology law. But a research paper on electric vehicles changed her course.

“I realized that I wanted to be the person who actually created the product instead of representing the companies or people who created the product,” she said.

Her introduction to computer sciences class got her hooked on the satisfaction of problem solving through code and cemented the switch to a computer science degree.

Women only make up 20 percent of computer science and 22 percent of engineering undergraduate degrees in the U.S., according to a National Science Foundation 2019 report.

Similarly, women comprise 23.6 percent of the auto industry as of 2019, according to U.S. International Trade Commission.

Growing up, McAnelly said her dad was her automotive role model. Now, she’s looking to be a role model for future generations.

“I want to show girls that you can do this and if you like STEM or you think you want to try it, you should,” she said. “I just wanted to show representation of women in this field because I feel like we need to still see that.”

Up north, at Michigan Technological University, Dee Paulson always identified as a tech nerd.

In high school she attended the Macomb Mathematics Science Technology Center and chose Michigan Tech to pursue their love of programming. She currently works at Creative Mines, a software development company in Hancock.

The EV Scholars program gives Paulson, 21, the financial boost to start their career. When she graduates next year she hopes to pair with an EV Scholars company and cash in the $10,000 scholarship to immediately halve their student loans.

Paulson knows their degree in computer science is valuable and that she could apply it in nearly any sector. But the scholarship narrowed their field of view, she said.

“Before EV Scholars, my answer to the question, ‘where are you looking to work?’ was ‘anywhere in the United States,’” she said. “Now, no other out-of-state job offer could match what the EV Scholars program is doing.”

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