Massachusetts Teachers Selected for Technological Humanism Award

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5706

Worcester, Mass. - May 6, 2003 - Worcester Polytechnic Institute presented its inaugural Technological Humanist Awards to seven outstanding Massachusetts high school teachers during a dinner and awards ceremony in the Campus Center Odeum on May 1, 2003.

P. Brady Townsend, who teaches math at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, received the First-Place Award, which included $5,000 to be used for equipment purchases, professional development or other activities that enhance education at his school.

Townsend was nominated by Julie Anderson, who was unable to attend the event. Her nomination essay was read by fellow student Chris Marvicos. Cliff Wheeler, Math and Science Coordinator at Wachusett Regional, who was representing principal Thomas Pandiscio, accepted the Technological Humanist Award trophy, which will be displayed at the school.

The Second-Place Award was presented to Eileen Ratkiewicz, who teaches chemistry at The MacDuffie School in Springfield. The honor included a monetary award of $2,500 and a trophy. She was nominated by Hilary Leithauser, and was joined onstage by Kathryn Gibson, head of school at the MacDuffie School.

David Steeves, who teaches physics at Chelmsford High School, received the Third-Place Award, which included a trophy and a monetary award of $1,500. He was nominated by Shamik Bhattacharyya. The principal of Chelmsford High School is Allen Thomas.

The four Honorable Mention Award recipients each received $500. They are:

  • Francine Breger, a biology teacher at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton. She was nominated by Jessica Mailloux. The principal is Richard Brennan.
  • Deborah Gustafson, science teacher at Greater Lowell Technical High School. She was nominated by Lora Brown and David McCarthy. The principal is Kathleen Canole.
  • Derric Lowery, a teacher of chemistry at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester. He was nominated by Diane Cote. The principal is Sally Maloney.
  • Daniel Sirpenski, a biology teacher at Framingham High School. He was nominated by Mark Hugo. The principal is Ralph Olson.

The awards were presented by WPI President Edward Alton Parrish. Massachusetts State Senator Robert Antonioni, chair of the state legislature's Joint Committee on Education, Arts and Humanities, congratulated the finalists in a brief address.

Nicholas Baker '03, a Marshall Scholar for 2003, was the guest speaker. He recounted how his own experiences as technological humanist at WPI, where he has pursued a double major in computer science and philosophy. A self-proclaimed "video game junkie," he intends to apply what he learned by creating state-of-the-art computer games that help players explore important social themes.

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.