The Future is Now!
By Tammy Richards
Executive Director, The Infinity Project
The start of a new school year is always exciting and gives us a lot to look forward to. Over the summer, The Infinity Project continued to expand the number of schools offering engineering curriculum to their students. These schools are doing a much needed service for their students - preparing the next generation to become the technology leaders of tomorrow.
Utilizing the Infinity curriculum to prepare students for
a successful transition to college is becoming more and more
important. Industry and academia are beginning to view the
engineering degree as the “new liberal arts” degree
- a prerequisite to a flourishing career in the medical, law,
business and technology fields. Engineering prepares students
to analyze, break down, and solve complex problems –
critical skills in all professions.
We are on the threshold of extraordinary advances in technology
that will affect the way we work and live. The more steps
we take now to expose students to the opportunities a career
in engineering has to offer, the brighter our future as a
nation will be.
By Dianna Rey, Director of Academic Relations
The Houston Endowment Inc. has awarded The Infinity
Project, the nation’s leading secondary engineering education
program, $441,000 to expand its curricula to more Houston-area
With the gift, local teachers in TEA Region IV will be able
to apply for a $3,000 matching grant to introduce the award-winning
curricula into their classroom. Approved by the Texas Education
Agency, the curricula links math and science to real world
engineering and technology applications. The program is a
full-year course that allows students to design and build
new technologies such as cell phones and creating movie special
effects while reinforcing critical math and science skills.
The Houston Endowment’s gift will be used to provide
professional development for teachers and technology kits
for the classroom.
“Science and math curricula in high schools should
include hands-on engineering projects,” says Geoffrey
Orsak, dean of SMU’s School of Engineering and founder
of The Infinity Project. “There is no better way to
see math and science in action than through modern high-tech
engineering. The Infinity Project gives students a big head
start in developing their technical skills for the 21st century.”
To lean more about The Infinity Project and grant opportunity,
contact Dianna Rey, Director of Academic Relations, at 214-768-1920
Meet Our New Master Instructors
Professional Development has always been an integral part
of The Infinity Project curriculum. Having experienced and
knowledgeable instructors available to conduct summer Institutes
is paramount to the success of the program. With that in mind,
we work hard to cultivate new Infinity instructors that can
bring their classroom experience with The Infinity Project
to bear as they train new teachers. We are pleased to announce
the addition of two new Master Instructors. Please join us
in welcoming Sheri Goings and Sergio Ramirez.
Sheri Goings is a Mathematics
Instructor at Parkview Baptist School in Baton Rouge,
Louisiana. She is a former mechanical engineer and has
been teaching for four years. Sheri is responsible for
teaching Introduction to Engineering and has 10 students
enrolled in The Infinity Project course Multi-Media
& Informational Engineering.
Sergio Ramirez is the
Science Department Chair and a Chemistry Instructor
at Riverside High School in El Paso, Texas. He is a
former chemist and has been teaching for seven years.
Sergio is the Director for Pre-Engineering Pathway at
his high school and currently has 80 students enrolled
in The Infinity Project.
Infinity Master Instructors include teachers that have been
teaching The Infinity Project in their classroom for several
years. These teachers complete a 2-week certification program
during the summer to become an Infinity Master Instructor.
During the first week, Instructors observe a training institute
in session. The second week of the program, Instructors co-teach
with an Infinity Master Instructor. Upon completion of the
certification program, new Master Instructors will be able
to conduct Infinity Professional Development training at various
university locations the following summer.
Support is Key to Success
By Dianna Rey, Director of Academic Relations
The Infinity Project continues to expand into more high schools
every year. In fact, 32 new schools were certified this year to
offer the program in classrooms across the country. This expansion
is due in part to the tremendous support Infinity offers its instructors.
Our goal is to make it as easy as possible to implement The Infinity
Project into the classroom. We do this by providing award-winning
curriculum materials that includes:
- An outstanding textbook – Engineering Our Digital
- Instructors Manual containing FAQ’s, homework
solutions, sample test questions
- Student Lab Manual with hundreds of design projects
that follow the textbook
- High Tech Technology Kit that turns a PC into an engineering
- Daily Lesson Plan Guide that provides objectives,
activities, homework, and evaluation
- Chapter Training Slides to present the topic in each
- Chapter Extensions for supplemental textbook material
receive additional support that includes:
- Telephone calls from Infinity staff to see how things are going
- Infinity Discussion Forums that allow you to talk “live”
with a Master Instructor. Forums are held twice per month and
provide the opportunity to get questions answered immediately.
- Website “Help” that allows you to find answers
to FAQ’s pertaining to general questions, the curriculum,
or technology kit. Questions can also be posted and are answered
within one business day.
- Website “Discussion Board” that allows you to network,
share ideas, and discuss classroom experiences with other Infinity
- E-Bulletins that keep you informed of curriculum changes, technology
upgrades, and other pertinent information.
- E-Newsletters that keep you informed and provide an opportunity
to showcase your schools success with the program.
Receiving feedback from students and instructors is very important
and provides Infinity with the opportunity to expand and improve
the program. This is accomplished by conducting two assessment
- Instructor Surveys provide teachers with the opportunity to
evaluate the effectiveness of course materials and comment on
the course itself. Surveys are distributed after the first semester
in December, and again in April before the course ends.
- Student Surveys are distributed in the fall and late spring
to juniors and seniors. The purpose of this is to assess the overall
impact of The Infinity Project on these students. The survey is
distributed by Infinity instructors and takes 15 minutes to complete.
The winning combination of curriculum materials, instructional
support and assessment tools that Infinity provides will continue
to be our key to success. This is evident not only in the increased
number of schools offering the program, but in the number of students’
lives it has impacted.
Professional Development Training
By Dianna Rey, Director of Academic Relations
past summer, 56 high school and university instructors
throughout the country took part in a week long training
course to become certified Infinity instructors. Training
was conducted by Master Infinity Instructors, and Institutes
were hosted on several university campuses:
- The University of Houston, Houston,
- Southern Methodist University, Dallas,
- Santa Clara University, Santa Clara,
- University of Central Florida, Orlando,
hands-on instruction in using the text, lab manual, and technology
kit. They also had the opportunity to network and share ideas with
fellow teachers. The excitement and energy of these new Infinity
instructors is evident from the following teacher comments:
“The Infinity leaders were so giving of their time.
It was a relaxed atmosphere in which to learn and everyone was
“The instructor was good. I appreciated his comments
on his experiences teaching this program.”
“I felt that overall this training was excellent. I
liked the group discussion and presentation format. I am especially
impressed with the materials handed out to the teachers. They
are extremely well put together and very professionally done;
I feel this will be a turn-key implementation.”
The schedule for 2006 Summer Professional Development Institutes
is currently being developed. Visit the website at http://www.infinity-project.org/edu/edu_prodev.html
for a listing of the Institute nearest you.
Engineering Camp for Girls
By Betsy Willis, Ph.D.
summer, 48 female high school students explored how engineers
use math, science, and technology to make our lives better at
the Southern Methodist University Engineering Camp for Girls.
Andrew Brown, Master Infinity Instructor, created the curriculum
for the camp using the Infinity Project curriculum and VAB software.
After mastering the basics of the VAB, teams of students were
challenged with creating a product that uses the technology of
turning images into sound. Students’ designs included the
Clean Machine, an automatic cleaning machine; the Sign Matcher,
allowing cars to drive in autopilot; the Automatic Tanning Machine,
a ‘smart’ tanning booth that created the perfect tan
given an individual’s natural skin tone; and many more!
The week culminated with student teams presenting their designs
to an audience of parents, teachers, and university personnel.
Students also experienced college through a campus tour and engineering
Educators’ Day, a workshop designed to provide high school
educators with the tools they need to encourage students to
pursue engineering in college, was held in conjunction with
the camps. The three hour workshop included information on how
to identify future engineers, how to foster students’
interest in engineering, and tips for writing college admissions
letters of recommendations. The workshop concluded with an opportunity
for participants to view student design presentations.
Due to the overwhelming demand, the camp will be expanded to
include six sessions accommodating up to 144 students in the
summer of 2006. The week-long day camp was held on the campus
of Southern Methodist University and was made possible with
funding from the Maura Awards, specifically designated to SMU’s
Gender Parity Initiative. For more information on the SMU Engineering
Camp for Girls and Educators’ Day, visit http://engr.smu.edu/parents/precollege_opportunities.html.
Student and teacher comments included:
"The camp strengthened my interest in engineering
and provided me with an experience I will never forget."
"I had so much fun at this camp. It was great to meet
other girls who are interested in engineering. It was also nice
to use what we know and actually create a product."
"I enjoyed learning about how to better encourage
my students to explore the field of engineering."