By Dianna Rey
Director of Academic Relations, The Infinity Project
Statistics suggest a perilous future of constantly growing cities, increasing pollution, and declining resources. We live in a time of unprecedented global change. How can we preserve our way of life for generations to come and develop the cities of the future?
On March 24th, nearly 500 Dallas area middle school students met on the campus of Southern Methodist University for Visioneering 2007 to tackle this problem. They divided into teams and worked with professional engineers to develop plans that accommodated population growth, environmentally-friendly means of mass transportation, reduced water consumption, and energy efficient buildings.
“This year’s challenge was based in part on the 2006 addition of the Embrey Building to the School of Engineering. This award-winning, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building inspired us to provide students with the opportunity to become environmental engineers for a day. Students were asked to incorporate green features into their designs for the cities of the future,” said Tammy L. Richards, P.E., assistant dean for the SMU School of Engineering.
Visioneering, which is sponsored by SMU’s Institute for Engineering Education and the School of Engineering, brings together students, educators, practicing engineers and innovators from a variety of industries to celebrate the ways that engineering makes a difference in the world around us.
“We find that in middle school, students tend to lose interest in math and science,” said Ms. Richards. “We want to show them the different aspects of engineering that include innovation, creativity, and teamwork.”
Visioneering 2007 included a keynote address by EPA environmental engineer Patricia Taylor and a technology expo, as well as the design project, in which students and engineers competed in teams to create technologies for cities of the future. The event’s co-sponsors included Texas Instruments, Lockheed Martin, National Instruments, Turner Construction, Raytheon and Lopez Garcia Group.
Infinity Students Win Engineering Competition!
Students in the Infinity Club for Engineers at Dunedin High School in Dunedin, Florida took 2nd place in the 21st Annual Student Design Competition hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Florida West Coast Section. Student teams were asked to design and assemble a device that would climb, vertically, a 2.5-meter string in the shortest time. Tristan Vail, Chad Boston, and Thomas Bennett took the trophy and prize money with great satisfaction.
Dunedin High School implemented The Infinity Project in 2006 as an elective for students enrolled in the Fast Track program. They also offered the course to students not enrolled in the program. According to Infinity Project Instructor Karen Hogan, “engineering was a distant idea to most of the students. It was up there with rocket scientists and brain surgeons. Students would complain that the objective was too hard; but after completing assignments and seeing their accomplishments, students found this to be a possible career move and started to explore other opportunities within the engineering field.”
The Infinity Club for Engineers also held competitions within The Infinity Project class. They built bridges, crystal radios, trebuchets, and mouse trap cars. They participated in several Myth Buster Events, attended the University of South Florida Robotics Competition, participated in the University of Florida Gator’s Engineering Outreach Program Event, and presented at the University of Central Florida Engineering Conference. “The students are thankful that a program such as The Infinity Project is available for them to expand their horizons and promote the engineer within,” said Ms. Hogan.
One of the most important aspects of The Infinity Project curriculum is our professional development training for instructors. The week long sessions, hosted on various university campuses throughout the summer, provide instructors with the training they need to successfully implement the program into their classroom. Instruction in the use of the text, hardware, and software is provided along with additional supplemental support material.
If you are interested in attending one of these sessions, register on-line today at http://www.infinity-project.org/edu/edu_prodev.html
Engineering Education Grant
Time is running out to apply for the Houston Endowment Matching Grant. This special grant opportunity provides Texas Region IV schools with funding to implement The Infinity Project at ½ the cost!
Schools in the following districts have already taken advantage of this opportunity to introduce state-of-the-art high tech engineering into their classrooms: Aldine, Alief, Brazosport, Galena Park, Goose Creek, Hempstead, Houston, and Pasadena Independent School Districts.
The Houston Endowment Grant provides professional development for teachers and technology kits for the classroom. The Infinity Project curriculum is approved by the Texas Education Agency and provides a direct link between math and science concepts and the technologies students use every day. Hands-on design projects reinforce critical math and science skills and allow students to solve problems like real engineers.
For more information, contact Dianna Rey, Director of Academic Relations, at 214-768-1920 or email@example.com. Applications are currently being accepted for the 2007/2008 school year! To join, complete the application.