Engineering School Sponsors Teacher Workshop
By Janice Palmer, Office of University Communications
STORRS, Conn. -- Ask a seventh grader what an engineer is and the answer
would probably involve a train. But engineers have also designed the tallest
in the world, created medical devices to save lives and put men on the moon.
From Aug. 5 to 10, the University of Connecticut's School of Engineering
is sponsoring the da Vinci Project, a summer program for secondary school
who are learning how to integrate basic engineering concepts into math and
"They leave here better equipped to teach and advise their students about
the role of engineering in contemporary life," says Marty Wood, the School's
dean for undergraduate education. "By exposing students to the fundamentals
before they reach college age, we hope to increase the number and diversity of
people pursuing engineering careers. This is particularly important to the
School of Engineering, as we work to address the shortage of skilled engineers
Connecticut and throughout the country."
Twenty-three teachers from Connecticut and Massachusetts will spend the
first part of their day learning core concepts in engineering, but the
majority of their
time at UConn will be spent conducting hands-on experiments. The projects
will include fuel cell construction, energy transfer, wastewater treatment,
properties of materials, design and construction of a sensing circuit, and
construction of a logic circuit.
"A heightened understanding of engineering concepts is a start, but it is
just as important they leave here with course modules and experiments that
easily can be
infused into their school's curricula," says Robert Vieth, program director.
This is particularly relevant to Massachusetts educators, because that state
is modifying its curriculum to include engineering and technology.
This is the second year the da Vinci Project has been presented. The UConn
School of Engineering offers participants free room and board for the week, a
stipend, and the opportunity to earn continuing education or master's credits.
On Thursday, Aug. 9, during the farewell banquet at 6 p.m., Richard Cole,
executive director of the Connecticut Academy of Education in Math, Science and
Technology, will address the teachers.
The program is named to honor Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), who was not
only one of the greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance but also an
whose ideas have influenced scientists, scholars and artists for hundreds of
years. By combining his understanding of machinery and his illustration skills,
Leonardo created blueprints for prototypes of dozens of inventions, including
a helicopter, a battle tank and a machine gun.
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