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2002-2003

Nationally Recognized Expert in Educational Outreach Tapped by Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Martha Cyr Joins WPI Staff as head of K-12 Outreach

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/May 5, 2003
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5706

Worcester, Mass. - May 5, 2003 - Martha Cyr, formerly Director for Tufts University's Center for Engineering Educational Outreach has been named Director of K-12 Outreach for Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Dr. Cyr, who also taught engineering at Tufts since 1994, will be responsible for developing programs for students in kindergarten through high school, as well as creating curricula and classroom activities for the professionals who teach them.

"Martha will continue the projects we've begun here at WPI to reach young people who may never have even considered studying science, engineering and mathematics," said WPI's President, Edward A. Parrish. "As an educator herself, and as an alumna of WPI's graduate programs, she certainly has the in-depth knowledge about our unique approach to education. We look forward to building on her experience at Tufts and her unique perspective on creating solid educational underpinnings in math and science."

"It is incredibly exciting to have an opportunity to reach beyond the engineering classroom," said Dr. Cyr who will also teach at WPI. "I'm looking forward to becoming involved in one of my initial projects with the Worcester School system." She hopes to involve interested WPI graduate and undergraduate students. "What's most important is to find out what engages students on all levels and to use that to access subjects that they may initially reject."

Dr. Cyr received her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire. She received her masters and doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from WPI. She also worked as a thermal engineer for Data General Corporation; and as a NASA Researcher for three years where she worked on computational thermal fluids research on the impact of liquid pooling on the energy transfer within a heat pipe in microgravity.

She currently has received nearly $1 million in funding from the National Science Foundation National Digital Library Program for a collaborative proposal with the University of Colorado at Boulder; and Oklahoma University for "Collaborative Research: TeachEngineering - Hands on Resources for K-12." In addition, she is part of a five year, $1.7 million project for Teacher Enhancement in Pre-College Engineering from the National Science Foundation. She also received grants from the Massachusetts Department of Education in 2001 for Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks Support and Engineering in Grades three through five.. She has also received numerous grants from private industry, professional organizations and foundations for classroom outreach.

Dr. Cyr resides in Charlton, Massachusetts with her family.

The new position is funded for three years by a generous gift from Edna and Douglas Noiles, WPI class of 1944. Mr. Noiles received his degree in mechanical engineering from WPI. He was executive vice president, research and development, and co-founder of Joint Medical Products Corporation in Stamford, Connecticut, and holds numerous patents for surgical devices and orthopedic implants.

"We want to increase opportunities for children to feel the excitement of learning and ideas, especially the fundamentals from which math, science and engineering grow," said Mr. Noiles. "WPI has already made a substantial commitment to school outreach and diversity programs. This new position will help the university build on its initial successes and innovations and give more teachers and students opportunities that otherwise they may have never considered."

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865, WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education. WPI was the first university to understand that students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the solution of important problems. Today its students, working in teams at more than 20 project centers around the globe, put their knowledge and skills to work as they complete professional-level work that can have an immediate positive impact on society.

WPI's innovative, globally focused curriculum has been recognized by leaders in industry, government and academia as the model for the technological education of tomorrow. Students emerge from this program as true technological humanists, well rounded, with the confidence, the interpersonal skills and the commitment to innovation they need to make a real difference in their professional and personal lives.

The university awarded its first advanced degree in 1898. Today, its first-rate research laboratories support master's and Ph.D. programs in more than 30 disciplines in engineering, science and the management of technology. Located in the heart of the region's biotechnology and high-technology sectors, WPI has built research programs-including the largest industry/university alliance in North America-that have won it worldwide recognition.