Pettinger Foundation Puts Jackson MST Center Students on the Path to College Scholarships at SMU Lyle's Visioneering

Mar 20, 2011, 17:26 ET from The Lyle School of Engineering at SMU

--Foundation Adds to $125,000 Already Awarded to DFW Seniors--

DALLAS, March 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- SMU Lyle encouraged more than 1,000 middle schoolers to imagine life as an engineer at last month's Visioneering event, and the Pettinger Foundation opened the door to 10 standout students to make their dreams a reality.

Garland ISD's Jackson MST Center students won a scholarship opportunity by creating a smart home as part of the day's design challenge – Personal Entertainment Plus – with mentoring assistance provided by engineers representing Texas Instruments, Fluor, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and The Pettinger Foundation.

The team envisioned having a living environment that changes with one's thoughts; for example, interactive holographic entertainment incorporating movies, sports, etc. The design also incorporated safety features such as a fire suppressant that replaces toxic air in a room with a non-lethal oxygen-poor gas; DNA readers to identify the home's occupants (friend or foe); plus a non-invasive health monitoring system.

At Visioneering, the Pettinger Foundation demonstrated its own next-generation advances. Prototypes included a gyrocompass-guided laser that bounced light off Moody Coliseum's roof.  Gyros are used in navigation systems, from spacecraft to ships, and potentially to help disabled people walk again; a thermoelectric solid state CFC-free freezer/refrigerator that also functions in reverse as a power generator using waste heat/cooling; and prototype piezoelectric ignition engines using piezo crystals that could eliminate coils and any need for electric energy for spark plug firing.

"The middle school mind is the optimum venue for exploring new applications, and we hope to inspire – and learn from – these bright young people," says Wes Pettinger, founder.  "Our goal has always been to inspire creativity in children at an early age so they have the skills and confidence to pursue a career that brings them fulfillment and happiness, and gives back to society."

In addition to sponsoring Visioneering and other recruiting events, the Foundation integrates robotics into middle and high school classroom curriculum by mentoring over 20 DFW student clubs and sponsoring summer programs. In fact, one such robotics club in Garland ISD designed a VEX remote-controlled robot that delivered the winning team's name in an envelope to presenter Hedwig Pettinger. That club will compete in a worldwide VEX competition this April in Orlando.

The Pettinger Foundation scholarship stipulates that the Jackson MST students register their names now and formally apply for the funding – up to $5,000 per each of the 10 students for a potential total of $50,000 – 45 days prior to high school graduation. Successful candidates will demonstrate financial need, a determination to pursue science and engineering at an accredited college or university, and a passion to help engineer a better world.

Three past winners of the Pettinger Foundation scholarship attended this year's Visioneering event, serving as high profile examples of where focused study in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum can lead. The students currently pursue engineering degrees at a Texas university.

The 2010 Pettinger Foundation winning team at Visioneering represented the 6th grade at Dallas ISD's Irma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School, the first all girls public school in Texas. Under the direction of science instructor Dana Clark, the team designed clean and cost efficient air, water, and electricity solutions to sustain a hypothetical village in a developing nation. Irma Rangel's last two valedictorians joined SMU Lyle as members of its freshman class.

The Pettinger Foundation, which has already invested $100,000 in STEM programs, shares SMU Lyle's commitment to beginning engineering education at an early age to encourage young people to consider and prepare for engineering as a career.

More than a noble calling, recruiting and mentoring impact the state and federal economy. To meet current job forecasts, the U.S. will need to add 122,000 engineers and scientists to the workforce every year for a decade.

"Texas is not prepared to meet future demand, but if academia and industry work together to proactively prepare K-12 students now for the rigors of college coursework, I'm confident we can reverse the trend," says Tammy L. Richards, Associate Dean of the SMU Lyle School of Engineering.

About the SMU Lyle School of Engineering

The SMU Lyle School of Engineering is committed to developing the new American engineer, one prepared to excel and lead in creating new economic opportunities while meeting the most difficult challenges facing society. The Lyle School maintains a steadfast focus on using engineering to address important issues both at home and around the world.

Founded in 1925, the Lyle School is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers eight undergraduate and 29 graduate programs, including both masters and doctorate levels.

About the Pettinger Foundation

Founded in 1999, the Pettinger Foundation is a non-profit organization that works with public and private school systems to share information and provide assistance in the educational process; awards gifts, both monetary and material, to promising young students who may need such a catalyst to facilitate their learning experience; and strives to stimulate creativity and self-confidence in youth at the earliest opportunity in their educational process, to facilitate goal oriented career paths, and ultimate self sufficiency and happiness throughout life. Contact Wes Pettinger at

SOURCE The Lyle School of Engineering at SMU