Heroes’ Alliance After-School STEM Program For Metro Detroit High Schoolers Finds New Home At LIFT

Students from six local high schools are working in the facility to gain skills needed to succeed in advanced manufacturing

DETROIT – A Heroes’ Alliance after-school Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program, focused on lightweighting and additive manufacturing technologies in vehicles, has found a new home at the LIFT – Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow research and development facility in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit.

The program – now in the second phase of its pilot – is led by Heroes’ Alliance, a non-profit organization headquartered in Detroit with a focus on empowering young residents in urban communities. It brings together students from six high schools across Wayne and Oakland counties to collaboratively design, build, and test an electric-solar vehicle.

The first phase of the pilot, which was supported by LIFT and launched in December 2017, was housed at Detroit’s FOCUS: Hope facility. As the program has grown, doubling its enrollment from 10 students in Phase I to 20 in Phase II, additional space and engineering expertise were needed, which the program found those assets at LIFT.

“This is an example of how an initiative can be designed to be replicable and scalable, and it is exciting to see that growth come to fruition,” said Emily DeRocco, Vice-President, Education and Workforce Development, LIFT. “Our headquarters in Detroit is not just meant to be an R&D facility. With the LIFT Learning Lab to be completed this spring, the LIFT Manufacturing Innovation Institute will become a true immersive educational resource aimed at addressing the skills gap in advanced manufacturing and aligning talent and technology development. We welcome Heroes’ Alliance to our home base.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work in the LIFT facility and
immerse our students in a true, world-class R&D atmosphere,” said Anika Smith, Chief Operating Officer, Heroes Alliance. “Our students have learned so much in the short time they have worked in this space and are looking forward to spending even more time with the LIFT staff.”

Heroes’ Alliance signed an initial Education Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2013 with U.S. Army CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center for the purpose of expanding meaningful STEM opportunities for students in the Metro Detroit area. This agreement was renewed in December 2017. Through this EPA and with the support of additional partners, Heroes’ Alliance developed a Cooperative Learning Center (CLC) that utilizes vehicle technology as a platform for STEM engagement with high school students in an after-school capacity.


LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), is a Detroit-based, public-private partnership committed to the development and deployment of advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT is one of the founding institutes of Manufacturing USA, and is funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit or follow on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.

In response to the national agenda for increased STEM education, Heroes’ Alliance has created a platform to engage students, especially underrepresented minorities in Southeastern Michigan, in STEM education through after-school enrichment. In addition to focusing on learning outcomes that increase both knowledge and skills, Heroes’ Alliance is committed to creating a systematic means of supporting our students from secondary education through entry into the STEM workforce. For more information, visit

Joe Steele

Felicia Mickens
Heroes’ Alliance