High School Students Gather at WPI to Learn about Engineering, Science and Technology

Worcester Polytechnic Institute co-hosts National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools for Math Science and Technology Student Conference

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

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NCSSSMST Crossroads Student Conference site

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Worcester, MA - October 17, 2002 - Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science will co-host this year's National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools for Math Science and Technology Student Conference (NCSSSMST) from Thursday, October 24 - Saturday, October 26.

The conference will include over 175 students from as far away as Texas and Michigan. The theme for this year's conference is Crossroads: Where Science and Technology Meet LIFE.The best and brightest from specialized math and science high-schools throughout the country including the Bronx High School of Science and the Illinois Mathematics & Science Academy, will gather on WPI's campus to learn how the humanities connect to engineering, science and technology. More than 30 hands on programs will help illustrate the linkages between contemporary science and areas such as ethics, politics, music and theater, art and architecture.

The conference is modeled on the WPI curriculum. "We don't teach just the theories and applications of science and engineering. We're teaching students about how their interest in technology can change lives," said Professor M. David Samson, Department of Humanities and Arts at WPI, one of several WPI faculty members who will teach special programs at the event. "We want students to have the skills to face challenges and solve problems when they begin their academic and professional careers. We try and help students attending this conference make the connection about what they are learning now, and how they can apply it and make a difference in society in the future - just as we do with students at WPI."

The three-day conference will begin with a dinner in the company of Dr. Jonathan Barnett. Dr. Barnett will discuss his work in fire protection engineering including his recent work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) into the investigation of the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers. Dr. Thomas Shannon, will discuss ethical issues in bioengineering including stem cell research at Friday evening's dinner meeting.

A sampling of sessions is below:

NASA Vision
From astronaut to chief scientist for the International Space Station, Roger Crouch will talk about his experiences in space, show a brief film and discuss the vision, challenges and opportunities NASA faces with the International Space Station. This presentation will be followed by a meet and greet reception including opportunities to secure his autograph.

Frankenstein: or How a Teenage Girl Created the Biggest Myth
Explore Mary Shelly's classic in terms of how a teenage girl (the age of many high school seniors) created one of the most important myths about creativity, science, ethics and society in modern times.

Project AEGIS: An Asteroid Shield for Planet Earth?
In this game, people from various country's space agencies meet to see if they can work together on an asteroid deflection device as a UN sponsored and funded activity. The decision for this meeting is timed immediately after Earth was almost struck by a large Asteroid. The UN calls together space faring nations of the world to work together over the next 50-100 years to ward off this kind of threat in the future. The nature of the technology to be shared is militarily sensitive and UN funding will come with some strings attached. Briefing papers will explain cultural differences to participants who will be assigned technical, scientific, bureaucratic or diplomatic roles in the various delegations.

FIRST City Sights
City Sights explores how robotics technology can assist urban planners with providing basic services such as housing and clean water to inhabitants of the city. Participants will explore the world of applied engineering design, concepts, city planning issues, and build program LEGO Mindstorms robots to solve a real world challenge.

About WPI

Founded in 1865, WPI was a pioneer in technological higher education. Early on, it developed an influential curriculum that balanced theory and practice. Since 1970, that philosophy has been embodied in an innovative outcomes-oriented undergraduate program. With a network of project centers that spans the globe, WPI is also the leader in globalizing technological education. WPI awarded its first advanced degree in 1898. Today, most of WPI's academic departments offer master's and doctoral programs and support leading edge research in a broad range of areas. WPI's approach to education has prepared generations of problem solvers whose new ideas and inventions have literally changed the world. They include Robert Goddard '08, father of modern rocketry, Harold Black, inventor of the principle of negative-feedback; Carl Clark, inventor of the first practical airbag safety systems; Richard T. Whitcomb, formulator the Area Rule and developer the supercritical wing, and Dean Kamen, inventor of the first wearable drug infusion pump, and the stair-climbing wheelchair.