Summer Institute at UH will be engineering a brighter future

06/15/04

SECME paves the way for minorities, women to study science, engineering in college

HOUSTON, June 15, 2004 A crucial engineering conference will take place at the University of Houston this month. But instead of bridge construction, chemical reactions or airplane design, the real focus will be on an even more challenging topic: invigorating the profession by reaching out to two underrepresented sources of talent minorities and women in high school.

UH is hosting the 28th Annual Summer Institute of SECME June 14-July 1, bringing together 650 or so teachers, advisers, educational specialists, parents and students to participate in an array of hands-on workshops, classes and exciting special presentations. Events range from a water rocket competition and a demonstration about the physics of bobble head dolls to mousetrap car races and a lecture about changes the human body undergoes in space. Guest speakers include representatives from NASA, Lockheed Martin, DuPont and Disney Design & Engineering.

While the conference is multi-faceted, the goal is simple to improve high school preparation for underserved students who want to study science, math, technology and engineering in college.

"As one of the most diverse urban research universities in the country, UH is happy to support the SECME participants," said Raymond Flumerfelt, dean of the UH Cullen College of Engineering, which is principally sponsoring the event. "SECME's hallmark to promote and mentor students in their pursuit of an engineering degree and to provide an avenue for educators to develop 'best practices' in teaching and learning is certainly in keeping with our objective to develop the next generation of engineering leaders."

SECME (which originally stood for Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering) was established in 1975 by the deans of engineering schools at seven universities. Today, this educational alliance links 43 universities in 18 states, 70 government and corporate supporters and nearly 120 school districts, including the Houston Independent School District. And the program produces results: the average SECME senior SAT score is 221 points higher than the average for African-American students in general, 150 points higher than the Hispanic.

"We look forward to living and learning on the UH campus, a place of great academic distinction and home to the most ethnically diverse student body among the nation's top-tier research universities," said Yvonne B. Freeman, executive director of SECME. "What could be more fitting or mission appropriate for us? Not to mention the excitement we feel being at the center of such a wealth of science and technology that will challenge, inspire and renew our SECME educators."

The institute gets under way with the Pioneer Student Leadership Academy from June 14-19 and then the Teacher Academy begins June 20 and continues throughout the conference. A keynote address will be presented June 21 by Alex Ignatiev, director, Texas Center for Superconductivity and Advanced Materials (at UH), who'll speak on "The Science of Science Fiction."

Other highlights for the Summer Institute include:

  • "Technology Tools for the K-12 Classroom," a lecture by Andrea Pair of Lockheed Martin. June 21.
  • "High Tech U," a two-day workshop presented by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturers International (SEMI) industry groups using hacky sack catapults and glass-etching examples to explain the chip-making process. June 23-24.
  • Multicultural Extravaganza, a celebration of arts, crafts, music and cuisine. June 24.
  • "Our Future in Space," a NASA presentation including a member of the NASA Astronaut Corps. June 24.
  • "Engineering the Disney Magic," a presentation by Dennis Lind of Disney. June 25.
  • Pioneers in Education Breakfast and Forum, hosted by the U.S. Army National Museum with a presentation by Kim Winkleman, of Oglala Lakota College. June 27.
  • "Miracles of Science: From Aerospace to Agriculture," a presentation including NASA, DuPont and Pioneer Hi-Bred International. June 26.
  • Water Rocketry and Mousetrap Car competitions (students). June 28.
  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards workshop. June 29.
  • Water Rocketry and Mousetrap Car competitions (teachers). June 30.

But the bulk of the Summer Institute at UH consists of class after class in which hundreds of SECME-affiliated teachers will learn new and better ways to help students engineer a brighter future for themselves.

For a complete 28th Annual SECME Summer Institute schedule or to learn more about SECME, visit the Web site http://www.secme.org.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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