The Value of Community EngagementKettering Professor, Dr. Matthew Sanders


Kettering University professor, Dr. Matthew Sanders, has taught Industrial Engineering at Kettering University since 1999. He holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Texas Tech University, with expertise in engineering economy, systems analysis, and project management.

Professor Sanders has been nominated for this year’s Faculty Distinguished Citizenship Award in recognition of his decades of commitment to the university and the community of Flint. And the reason why is clear.

In addition to his teaching duties and being a mentor to hundreds of students, Sanders has been vital to a number of projects that benefit the students who are involved, and the lives of those who are impacted by these projects.

One such project involves local entrepreneurs Jacky and Dora King, and the greenhouse at the couple’s Harvesting Earth Educational Farm. Sanders obtained grants totaling $100,000 from the Ford Community Fund to assist in the project that provided the King’s organic urban farm with solar power, a well, and a rainwater collection system. As a result, Sanders was able to make it more cost-effective and include local youth who need community service involvement.

Another of Sanders’ ventures includes Kettering’s aquaponics project. In partnership with Metro Community Development, it is a facility designed by students to create a self-sustaining vegetable farm. As part of Sanders’ interest in interdisciplinary cooperation, a variety of students participated in this project – from chemistry and business majors, to electrical, mechanical and industrial engineers. Sanders, simply but effectively, provides guidance.

“I was so pleased with them,” he shares. “They worked so hard. I love to work with the students at Kettering; they keep me on my toes.”

Sanders has also teamed up with a local entrepreneur to work on a public photo kiosk that connects to the photos on your cell phone and turns a selected photo into a postcard to be printed and mailed. He has also worked with his students on projects with the Flint Cultural Center, Genesee County’s Clean City Project, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, the Land Bank, St. Luke’s, the old Farmers’ Market, and is contributing to smaller projects for other local non-profits.

“I enjoy the self-satisfaction,” he says. “I want the community to be happier, healthier and safer. This country has given me a lot, why shouldn’t I give back somehow? At Kettering, one of our values is community engagement. Whatever students learn in school, or whatever they learn in their co-op, I want them to use that knowledge for the third party, so that the third party can benefit from it. I want students to implement what they learn, and the best way to do that is to teach through example. That way the community can benefit, too. It teaches students that education is not just for them, and putting money in their pockets. Part of their education is social responsibility.”

In October, Sanders will resume teaching the Interdisciplinary Capstone course at Kettering – a course designed to teach students in all fields to work well with those in other professions.

This year’s Faculty Distinguished Citizenship Award – and other awards – will be announced at the Celebration of Excellence at Kettering University on October 20, 2016.

Photography by Eric Dutro


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