Ben Franklin is Favorite Technological Humanist of Massachusetts K-12 Students

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5706

Worcester, Mass. - April 28, 2003 - He was born almost 300 years ago, but scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin is still first in the minds of Massachusetts students. According to a survey conducted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), students from kindergarten through 12th grade selected Franklin as their favorite technological humanist - a person who has used science and/or technology to make the world a better place.

Thirty-two percent of students selected Benjamin Franklin from among 10 contemporary and historical figures in a written survey. Born in Boston in 1706, Franklin used his ingenuity, leadership and scientific skills to make America at the time of the Revolution a better place, and his impact is felt to this day. Franklin was a publisher, author and ambassador. He developed numerous inventions, including the Franklin stove and bifocal spectacles, and made many important experiments in electricity. Additionally, as a public servant, he helped shape the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Other findings:

  • The second most popular technological humanist was inventor Thomas Edison, who received 19 percent of the votes.
  • Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci placed third, with 15 percent of the votes.
  • Teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe received the most votes of female examples, (11 percent).
  • Of contemporary figures, physicist Stephen Hawking received the most votes, (4 percent).

The survey was conducted among 219 Massachusetts K-12 students. The surveys were voluntarily completed in person on April 5 and April 7, 2003. The majority of the students were surveyed on the WPI campus while attending the Destination ImagiNation State Finals, which attracted more than 1,000 K-12 students representing over 70 Massachusetts cities and towns. Students were given 10 choices of contemporary and historical technological humanists, and were asked to select one person as their favorite. A write-in option was also available.

Technological humanism is an ideal that has been at the heart of WPI's approach to education since its founding. By combining expertise in science, technology and the humanities, technological humanists put their knowledge to work by solving important and real-world problems. They employ critical thinking, leadership and a social conscience to benefit the greater public good.

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.