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July 28, 2003

Gift Of $1 Million From TI Foundation To Advance Engineering Education In Nation's High Schools

DALLAS (SMU) -- A three-year $1 million gift from the Texas Instruments Foundation will expand the reach and impact of The Infinity Project, the nation's leading high school and early college high-tech engineering education program, headquartered at the Institute for Engineering Education at SMU.

"The Texas Instruments Foundation believes the Institute for Engineering Education at SMU will make a big difference in how young men and women are prepared for careers in engineering," said Jack Swindle, president of the TI Foundation. "The Infinity curriculum is already showing promising results in attracting and retaining engineering students."

The Infinity Project was created to increase student interest and preparedness in engineering, math and science by getting more young students involved in hands-on cutting edge engineering design. It provides schools with a state-approved curriculum, modern classroom technology, teacher training and extensive on-line support. The award-winning program was created three years ago by a national team of leading experts in engineering research and education.

The TI Foundation grant will provide the resources to expand the reach of the program to hundreds of additional schools across the region, state, and nation. It will also allow the Institute for Engineering Education to conduct a multi-year impact study of the Infinity Project on student learning and interest in math, science and engineering-related courses. Currently the Infinity Project is working with more than 80 schools in 20 states with plans to grow to all 50 states over the next five years.

"With this generous gift, Texas Instruments has again taken the lead in keeping our nation competitive by preparing young people for college studies and careers in engineering and technology," says SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "SMU is grateful for its long-standing partnership with TI that is advancing research and teaching on our campus, and enabling us to use those strengths to enrich the curriculum in our nation's high schools. We appreciate this latest expression of the company's support."

The engineering curriculum created by The Infinity Project focuses on the applications of math and science fundamentals to modern engineering and teaches students how engineers create and design the technology around them. Hands-on labs integrate cutting-edge software with advanced digital signal processors (DSPs), the semiconductor technology that powers electronic devices ranging from cell phones to dishwashers.

"Whether young students know it or not, engineering will be part of their lives. The Infinity Project is one of our country's best educational initiatives for connecting students to their future," said Stephen A. Szygenda, dean of the SMU School of Engineering.

To gain the skills necessary to effectively teach the Infinity Project curriculum, high school math, science, and technology teachers attend summer professional development institutes hosted by universities across the state and nation. To date, more than 200 math and science teachers have been trained to teach the Infinity curriculum in schools ranging from comprehensive public schools with both inner-city and suburban campuses, to magnet, private and parochial schools.

"The Infinity Project has demonstrated that students, teachers and schools want the opportunity to learn about the excitement of modern engineering," said Geoffrey C. Orsak, Executive Director of The Institute for Engineering Education and Director of the Infinity Project. "This generous gift from the TI Foundation will help us increase the access of this program to students and teachers not only in North Texas, but across the state and the nation."

The Infinity Project is one of five major programs administered by the Institute. The other programs are Visioneering, the Gender Parity Initiative, the Math and Science Readiness Institutes, and Community College Partnerships, all of which help students from middle school to early college become more proficient in math and science, to prepare them meet the demands of an increasing technical world.