WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 22, 2012 – Three STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educators were honored today for their outstanding achievements in helping students discover engineering during the inaugural DiscoverE Educator Awards, part of this year’s activities connected to Engineers Week 2012.
Shella Rivano Condino of Presidio High School, Presidio, Texas; Javaris Powell of Friendship Public Charter School, Washington, D.C., and Derek Sale of Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy, Detroit, Mich., were announced as winners of the 2012 DiscoverE Educators Award during proceedings of the 2012 DiscoverE Summit held today at the Newseum in Washington. D.C.
Engineers Week and ASME, 2012 chair, established the DiscoverE Educator Award Program to identify and celebrate exceptional STEM educators who have had an extraordinary impact on their students and to provide them with a forum to tell their compelling stories. Each winner received a $3,000 cash prize, courtesy of 3M and ASME, and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., during Engineers Week 2012, Feb.19-25.
The winners were selected by a panel of distinguished national education, engineering and business leaders organized by the National Engineers Week Foundation. The selection panel included Kendall Starkweather, executive director, International Technology and Engineering Education Association (ITEEA); Marisa Wolsky, executive producer, WGBH Educational Foundation; Victoria A. Rockwell, president, ASME, and John K. Woodworth, senior vice president, Corporate Supply Chain Operations, 3M.
“At the recent White House Science Fair, President Obama spoke about the importance of recognizing the vital work of today’s STEM teachers,” said Rockwell. “The purpose of the DiscoverE Educator Award program is to celebrate the teachers who are the ‘unsung heroes’ behind many exceptional engineers. The award offers engineers and engineering students the opportunity to recognize those teachers who dedicate their lives to nurturing the nation’s future STEM talent pool – a crucial component of America’s future economic growth.”
Shella Rivano Condino, who has taught high school physics for 18 years, teaches at Presidio High School. She says how in the tiny town of Presidio, Texas, resources are scarce to nonexistent. Yet in spite of its economic and geographical disadvantages, she is committed and determined to provide the students equal opportunities as those in bigger cities.
Impact: Janet was a quiet, insecure, non-English speaking newcomer to the US. Today, thanks to the rocketry and robotics enrichment programs taught by Condino, Janet is a first-generation college student attending Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Majoring in chemical engineering, she hopes to work for NASA. These experiences helped Janet improve her work ethic and communication skills (writing and speaking), as well as enhanced her engineering and leadership skills. Janet led her rocketry team three times to the Team America Rocketry Challenge national finals and consistently placed in the top 20, outscoring nearly 700 teams in the nation. Her team’s rocket research proposals were accepted at the 2010 and 2011 NASA Student Launch Initiative, and were featured at the NASA Marshall Star for being the smallest successful team to build and launch an advanced high power research rocket.
Javaris Powell has been a middle school engineering teacher for 11 years at the Friendship Public Charter School, Washington, D.C. Powell shared how the majority of his students typically only know about careers in sports or entertainment. He works hard to demonstrate how engineering is an interdisciplinary smorgasbord for learning, and challenges his students to consider a new dream: engineering.
Impact: The Spark Club afterschool engineering club was scheduled to meet on Mondays and Wednesdays during the spring of 2009. But Powell’s students insisted they meet every day during lunch and after school. One student, George, would stop by during recess to pick Mr. Powell’s brain about a career in engineering. At the closing ceremony of the program, the students shared their experiences. With tears in his eyes, George explained how at first he did not know anything about engineering, but credited the program for helping him to grow and mature. He thanked Mr. Powell for teaching him.
Derek Sale has been a middle school science and social studies teacher for 14 years at Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy in Detroit. Sale uses engineering lessons and exposure to engineering careers to empower his students. With 85 percent of his students living at or below the poverty level, he knows engineering is a viable option for his students to break the cycle of poverty.
Impact: When Detroit Public Television and the PBS series Need to Know produced a story about Mr. Sale and his students’ experience in the Future City Competition, he saw again the power engineering education can have on a child’s life. During an interview with three of his students, they were asked what the number one thing was they wanted to change about their current city. One boy said better roads and transportation. One girl answered that she’d like to make sure there was food at home every night and another girl wanted to stop the gunshots. Sale listened to their answers and recognized each as things the Detroit city leaders were trying to address. But as he reflected on the desire to have food at home every night, he realized this was not a general statement about having enough food. This was a statement that there was no food at home. This same student concluded the interview by saying “This is why I like Future City; it helps me make a better city to live in.” And this is why Sale believes in exposing his middle school students to engineering as much as possible.
Condino, Powell and Sale shared their stories before an audience of thought leaders including Subra Suresh, Ph.D., director of the National Science Foundation, and Charles M. Vest, Ph.D., president of the National Academy of Engineering, who were among the speakers at the DiscoverE Summit presented by ASME and moderated by Miles O’Brien, lead science reporter of PBS NewsHour.
The DiscoverE Educator Awards also included eight runners-ups and 12 honorable mentions. The names of these outstanding STEM educators are listed on the EWeek website at http://www.eweek.org
ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world. For more information, visit www.asme.org.
About National Engineers Week Foundation
National Engineers Week Foundation works year-round to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession critical to public health, safety, and welfare. The Foundation supports engineering outreach, education, and celebration through a network of thousands of volunteers in its partner coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies. Together we meet a vital need: introducing students, parents, and educators to engineering, engaging them in hands-on engineering experiences, and making science and math relevant. The Foundation and coalition are actively putting the E in STEM. For more information about National Engineers Week Foundation, visit www.eweek.org.