Seven Massachusetts High School Teachers Named Finalists for WPI Technological Humanist Awards

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, Mass. - April 10, 2003 - Seven Massachusetts high school teachers have been named finalists for the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Technological Humanist Award. The finalists were among more than 64 teachers nominated by their students and come from nearly every geographic area in the Commonwealth. The award was created by WPI to honor teachers who exemplify "technological humanism" - those skills that integrate technology and humanities in ways that inspire students to use and study science and technology in ways that will benefit society.

Finalists (listed alphabetically) include: Francine Breger, a science teacher at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational High School in Upton; Deborah Gustafson, an environmental science teacher at Greater Lowell Technical High School; R.D. Lowery, Ph.D., a science teacher at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester; Eileen Ratkiewicz, a chemistry teacher at the MacDuffie School in Springfield; Daniel Sirpenski, a biology teacher at Framingham High School; David Steeves, a physics teacher at Chelmsford High School; and P. Brady Townsend, a mathematics teacher at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden.

"Technological humanism is a concept that is integral to our curriculum and research here at WPI," said Bogdan Vernescu, head of the university's Mathematical Sciences Department, and a faculty member of the Technological Humanist Awards committee. "While it is a term that many people may be unfamiliar with, it is certainly a concept that has meaning in today's world - bridging the perceived gap between art, literature and history and science, math and engineering - and making a meaningful contribution to the world."

WPI received more than 64 nominations for the statewide awards program. Seven finalists were selected by a group of leaders in Massachusetts including Alison Taunton Rigby, president, Forester Biotech; Sheila Tobias, author and science education consultant; Loring Coes III, Mathematics Department chairman, Rocky Hill School, East Greenwich, Rhode Island; and Edward Alton Parrish, president of WPI.

The seven nominees will be honored at a ceremony on May 1 at WPI. Three recipients and four honorable mentions will be announced at the dinner. The first place recipient will receive $5,000 to use at his/her school; the second place recipient will receive $2,500; and the third place recipient will receive $1,500. Honorable mention recipients each will receive $500.

The WPI Technological Humanist Award for teachers will be expanded to other New England states in 2004, especially based on the success of the program and the quality of the entries.

"We were delighted to receive so many qualified entries and to see what an inspiration all 64 teachers were to their students," said Prof. Vernescu. "Each student was so inspired and passionate about the quality of his or her teacher who took a personal and professional interest in their academics, and the impact each had made on their lives relative to technological humanism."

About Technological Humanism

Technological Humanism is an ideal that has been at the heart of WPI's approach to education since its founding in 1865. By combining engineering, science and mathematics with art, music, literature, history and philosophy, technological humanists put their knowledge to work by solving important and real-world problems. They use their skills and talents to serve the greater public good.

About WPI

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.