National Instruments, the NI Foundation and The University of Texas at Austin Enhance Engineering Education in Local Classrooms
More Than 200 Teachers Now Trained to Teach NI LabVIEW-Based Programming through DTEAChJuly 12, 2004 Representatives of National Instruments and The University of Texas College of Engineering this week present the second session of a summer training program for schoolteachers planning to integrate engineering fundamentals and robotics into their curricula. In the last five years, more than 200 kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers from 12 Central Texas school districts have participated in the program on the UT Austin campus.The Design Technology and Engineering for Americas Children (DTEACh) RoboLab Summer Institute introduces teachers to RoboLab, an innovative, hands-on tool for teaching children math, science and engineering concepts. The RoboLab software is based on NI LabVIEW graphical programming software used by professional engineers and scientists worldwide to design, test and control the production of everything from cell phones to automobiles to potato chips. At this session of DTEACh, 25 teachers, more than half from Austin Independent School District, learn how to further develop their students critical problem-solving skills through building and programming robots with RoboLab software and the LEGO Mindstorms building blocks. National Instruments has seen tremendous growth in the DTEACh program as more teachers embrace the value of integrating technology concepts and project-based learning into their classrooms, said Ray Almgren, NI vice president of product marketing and academic relations. More than 4,500 Central Texas students have discovered the fun and excitement of engineering and science and learned vital problem-solving and teamwork skills using RoboLab in the classroom.In 1999, NI and the UT Austin College of Engineering teamed up to offer this annual summer training, now sponsored by the NI Foundation. This summer, DTEACh awarded scholarships to 50 Central Texas teachers who attend the workshops to learn everything from robot design and mechanical engineering with the LEGO Mindstorms System to actual software programming skills with RoboLab software. DTEACh graduates are then matched with an NI technical mentor for the school year and are invited to attend workshops and events throughout the 2004-2005 school year. DTEACh recently offered its first advanced training course. Last month, 25 returning teachers gathered at NI headquarters to learn more advanced engineering concepts from Tufts University representatives. These teachers spent one week developing advanced programming skills as well as how to acquire data with hardware.The DTEACh training program continues beyond the eight-day summer session, said Kathleen Crowe, former fifth-grade teacher and current supervisor of instructional technology for Pflugerville Independent School District. The first year is experimental as teachers learn how to implement the technology in their classrooms. Then, in subsequent years, teachers are able to design and develop a curriculum tailored to their students needs. In my 18 years of teaching, DTEACh is the only program I have been involved with that offers such extensive support, materials and training. About RoboLabRoboLab is a joint initiative of National Instruments, Tufts University and LEGO Educational Division designed to help teachers interactively demonstrate engineering concepts in a fun environment to students of all ages. As many as 500,000 students worldwide have benefited from this technology, which is based on the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment. For more information about the NI RoboLab program, visit www.ni.com/robolab. About the UT Austin College of EngineeringThe College of Engineering at UT Austin is ranked 12th in quality among the more than 300 accredited engineering schools in the United States. Only two other schools in the nation have more faculty members elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the engineering professions highest honor. These faculty teach the Colleges 6,500 students and conduct more than $100 million in research annually. More information about the College can be found on the Web at www.engr.utexas.edu. UT Austin engineering faculty Drs. Kris Wood and Richard Crawford, along with teacher and educator Dr. Marilyn Fowler, developed the DTEACh program. About National InstrumentsNational Instruments (www.ni.com) is a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists approach measurement and automation. Leveraging the PC and its related technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs through easy-to-integrate software, such as the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment, and modular hardware, such as PXI modules for data acquisition, instrument control and machine vision.
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