Contact: Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650

January 17, 2003


DALLAS (SMU) -- 3-D digital X-ray machines, wireless technologies that transmit data to emergency rooms while patients are en route to the hospital, and hand-held computers that enable physicians to prescribe the correct medications and procedures are just a few examples of new technologies being used in emergency rooms to improve patient care.

But none of these lifesaving technologies would be possible without the work of engineers.

Students around the country will have a chance to learn about the contributions of engineers to the emergency room through a special National Engineers Week event to be filmed Saturday, Feb. 8, at Southern Methodist University. The event, titled "Visioneering 2003: Designing the Future" will be broadcast nationwide to up to 8 million students at 12,000 schools Feb. 21 on Channel One Connection in conjunction with National Engineers Week Feb. 16-22.

The event is sponsored by the SMU School of Engineering and The Institute for Engineering Education at SMU. It is co-sponsored by Accenture and Texas Instruments (TI). Other sponsors include Tyco Electronics, Austin Industries, Baylor Healthcare System, EDS, EXE Technologies, Esoftsolutions, HKS Architects, Medical City Dallas Hospital, Methodist Hospitals of Dallas, National Engineers Week, Nortel Networks, Parkland Health and Hospital System, Presbyterian Hospitals of Dallas and The Science Place.

"Young children often play doctor but not engineer. This will help our youth discover that engineers contribute to our health and welfare as part of a medical team. SMU is helping our kids look at engineering in a fresh and fun way," said Leslie Collins, executive director of National Engineers Week.

Keynote speaker for the event will be Dr. Paul Pepe, director of emergency medical services for the City of Dallas. Pepe's talk will include a demonstration of an automatic defibrillator to revive a person who has suffered a heart attack. Other medical personnel and engineers also will participate in a question-and-answer session at the event.

"Most of the nation's ERs are operating at critical capacity, so the need for new technologies that enable treatment of more patients for less cost is critical," said Dr. Robert Simonson, associate medical director, Emergency Services, for Methodist Hospitals of Dallas.

Simonson said new technologies are benefiting patients by increasing the speed and accuracy of medical diagnoses and enabling medical personnel to respond more quickly to patient needs. These, in turn, are enabling hospitals to become more efficient and treat more patients.

"Kids today have grown up with so much technology they take it for granted. This event will help open their eyes to the wonders of its development and how cool a career in engineering can be," said Torrence Robinson, director of public affairs at TI. "Imagine inventing the electronics that stop a stroke's damage or can do analysis in minutes instead of hours. These are not only possible, but highly probable as more creative minds choose engineering."

The event will include a technology expo as well as a design project in which students and practicing engineers will work in teams to create technologies for the emergency room of the future. Representatives from Accenture will judge the designs and award prizes in different categories, and all the designs will be on display during National Engineers Week at The Science Place in Dallas.

"While many kids have visited emergency rooms, most probably don't realize that the devices that enable doctors to save lives were created by engineers," said Geoffrey Orsak, associate dean of the SMU School of Engineering and executive director of The Institute for Engineering Education at SMU. "We hope this event will help students see the broader impact of engineering on their lives and encourage them to take the math and science courses that are the foundation of careers in engineering and technology."

Nearly 500 7th and 8th graders from Dallas-area schools and youth organizations will participate in the live event.

"Visioneering inspires the creative energies of future generations of engineers, scientists and technologists. It helps to 'connect the dots' between a student's interest today, educational programs for tomorrow and career aspirations for the future," said Glenn Javens, a 1988 graduate of the SMU School of Engineering and partner with Accenture.

The event is the third "Visioneering: Designing the Future" sponsored by the SMU School of Engineering and The Institute for Engineering Education at SMU. The Institute was created in 2001 to develop and deliver national programs that present engineering as a fun, exciting and challenging career opportunity to the generation that will soon take the reins of the technology revolution. For information on Visioneering 2003, visit or call 214-768-4038.

Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, National Engineers Week is celebrated annually by thousands of engineers, engineering students, teachers and leaders in government and business. In 1990, the National Engineers Week consortium expanded its scope and now includes more than 100 engineering, scientific and education societies, and major corporations dedicated to increasing public awareness and appreciation of technology and the engineering profession. For more information on National Engineers Week, visit