The Infinity Project Celebrates 10th Year of Launching Engineers

Jan 21, 2010, 15:49 ET from The Infinity Project

-- Approved 4th Year Science Curriculum Awakens Middle and High School Students' Interest in Technology, Science, and Math --

DALLAS, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thomas Horner, an instructor in Northside Independent School District (NISD) in San Antonio, demonstrates for his high school class how math can digitalize voice and pictures. Middle school children in the Dallas area's Coppell ISD apply what they learn to solve real-life problems. A student at Missouri's Cor Jesu Academy says sound will never be the same to her again.

All three schools offer curriculum created by The Infinity Project, developed 10 years ago by the SMU Lyle School of Engineering, Texas Instruments, National Instruments, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and others to help students see the real value of science and math and encourage this generation to pursue careers in engineering. To date, The Infinity Project has impacted over 5,000 students in 38 states.

Horner, a science and physics teacher at John Jay Science and Engineering Academy, Infinity Project instructor and former engineer, emphasizes that The Infinity Project is rigorous and flexible enough to deliver college-level material in a high school classroom.

That encapsulates the message Tammy Richards, Associate Dean of SMU's Lyle School of Engineering and Executive Director of The Infinity Project, delivered at the Texas State Board of Education in 2007 as she advocated adding engineering as an option to fulfill the 4th year science requirement students must have in Texas. Texas school districts can now offer rigorous engineering curriculum to college-bound students, laying the foundation for a successful transition into college-level engineering courses.

In 1999, the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, housed in the Lyle School of Engineering, launched The Infinity Project as one of the first programs of its kind in the U.S. Today, the academic curriculum, which can be implemented yearlong, or incorporated into existing courses, serves a growing number of students in schools and universities across the country; the curriculum has successfully engaged populations traditionally under-represented in engineering, such as young women and minorities.

More than 400 schools already offer The Infinity Project curriculum. SMU Lyle provides extensive training, often covered by grant monies, and support for instructors implementing The Infinity Project's turnkey program, and requires only that teachers have administration support, science or math certification, and a willingness to work with computers.

The Infinity Project ignited Peggy Liska's interest in engineering when she was a student at Hightower High School in Fort Bend, Texas, near Houston.

"The Infinity Project prepared me for the engineering program at Texas A&M," says Liska. "I had a jump-start on my classmates because I already understood the 'big picture' of mechanical, biomedical, and civil engineering. Now I can focus on what's important in my college courses rather than spending time on basics."

Balancing Fun with Relevance

The affordable program delivers teachers rigorous, yet flexible lesson plans that incorporate more than 100 engineering and technology hands-on projects to make learning both fun and relevant.

Infinity's modules include sound engineering, environmental engineering, biomedical engineering and robotics, along with other problem-solution based lessons that introduce cutting-edge engineering and advanced technology in the middle school and high school classroom.

From engineering the ultimate music player to designing a digital backpack, or building a prosthetic limb, The Infinity Project delivers hands-on experiences that instructors can use to encourage students to problem-solve and work collaboratively, today in the classroom and tomorrow in the workforce.

Recruiting the Next Generation of Engineers

The ultimate goal is to increase the number of students who pursue careers in engineering and technology. More than half of the U.S. economy's growth in the last 50 years is due to scientific and technological innovation. Despite this, the statistics are sobering: In the United States, about 5% of all bachelor's degrees are in engineering compared with Asia's 20%; in China about one-third are in engineering (NSF's Science and Engineering Indicators 2010).

"In a time of record unemployment, academic achievement is tied closer than ever to economic development," says Geoffrey Orsak, Dean and Infinity's Founding Director. "With a renewed emphasis on STEM coursework -- science, technology, math, engineering -- I believe that widespread need for programs such as The Infinity Project will fuel the next 10 years of growth."

Co-founder Torrence Robinson of Texas Instruments Inc., adds: "Some of the nation's best minds have collaborated within SMU Lyle's think tank on engineering education to provide today's K-12 instructor with state-of-the-art content, presentation methods, and processes that awaken a student's desire to learn how engineering impacts the world."

About The Infinity Project

The Infinity Project, created by Southern Methodist University (SMU) Lyle School of Engineering and Texas Instruments, uses hands-on curricula to bring science and math to life for secondary and early college students. Nearly 400 middle schools, high schools and colleges in 38 states are utilizing The Infinity Project to build the technology leaders of the future. www.infinity-project.org

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Tammy Richards

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SOURCE The Infinity Project



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