February 21, 2008
Liz Ford, Staff Writer
Over the weekend, 1,000 Dallas-area middle schoolers entered the world of bioengineering for a day at SMU. Visioneering 2008 held its largest program in its eight-year history, packing Moody Coliseum with students, teachers, sponsors and members of the SMU community. Seventeen independent school districts, including Dallas, Plano, Richardson and Garland, attended the four-and-a-half hour program.
Students were greeted and entertained by emcee Markus Lloyd, who began the day with a fun, MTV-style introduction to bioengineering. He was followed by Jose Lage, an SMU professor in the department of mechanical engineering, Torrence Robinson, Director of Public Affairs for Texas Instruments, and Dr. Betsy Willis, Interim Director of Pre-Engineering Advising at SMU.
After an introduction by the engineers and sponsors, students were led to various classrooms across campus where they were presented with a dilemma. The scenario involved an ailing astronaut in need of surgery on an injured knee.
The real problem appeared when the students discovered the woman was on a shuttle to Mars and would need to complete the mission, receiving her medical attention on the planet. The situation required consideration of the nine-month travel time from Earth to Mars, as well as the lack-of real-time communications between the two planets.
Proposals included the type of diagnostic equipment needed in a medical facility on Mars, design of the operating room, surgical equipment needed, and a rehabilitation plan the astronaut would need to facilitate her recovery. The students were judged on teamwork, creativity, visionary, versatility, engineering excellence and sustainability. Current engineers shared tips and insight into the world of biomedical engineering while aiding students with the assignment.
"It's a science fair on steroids," Dianna Rey, Director of Marketing and Special Events for the SMU School of Engineering said.
After the proposals were completed, the 1,000 pre-teens returned to Moody Coliseum for a hip-hop dance presentation and a tech-expo, including presentations from the SMU Robotics Team, Texas Instruments, Baylor Health Care, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Turner Construction, the Lopezgarcia Group and the SMU School of Engineering.
Six schools received awards for their innovative solutions to the problem of the astronaut's injured knee. North Richland Middle School received the Leadership of Tomorrow Award for their ability to work together and involvement of all individuals on the team. Carpenter Middle School was awarded the Passion for Invention Award based on the versatility of their design, while Boude Story Middle School received the Innovator Award for their creativity. The Building the Future Award went to Grapevine Middle School for their use and reuse of limited resources and sustainability.
Robert E. Lee Middle School received the Impacting Lives Through Technology Award for innovative design and forward thinking. The Engineering Excellence Award was given to Evans Middle School for a design that could lead to an end product.
"It was an extremely successful event and really turned students on to engineering," Rey said. "They had a lot of fun-that's what its all about."