Honorees praised for development of ITL Program
Two CU faculty members will receive the 2008 Bernard M. Gordon Prize Feb. 19 in Washington, D.C.
Lawrence Carlson and Jacquelyn Sullivan have been selected to receive the $500,000 prize for their work founding and developing CU’s Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, also known as the ITL.
The award is the top educational honor given by the National Academy of Engineering.
“I’m very excited about the work that they’ve done,” said Deborah Young, awards administrator for the National Academy of Engineering.
Of the $500,000 reward, half is given to the ITL Program, and the other half will be awarded to Carlson and Sullivan.
“It’s not about the money, but it will be invested in education,” Carlson said.
Though Sullivan and Carlson are credited for founding the program, they emphasize the efforts of their colleagues, saying that they have been supported by a wonderful team.
The ITL Program began in 1992 as an initiative to establish an interdisciplinary, hands-on program for undergraduates. Carlson and Sullivan went on to expand the program to students as early as kindergarten.
For Sullivan, the focus of the program has been increasing interest in engineering for the program’s K-16 participants.
“A lot of kids don’t really know what engineering is,” Sullivan said. “From the media they know what doctors and lawyers do, but a lot of them still think an engineer is someone who drives a train.”
While the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences has shown an increase in enrollment according to their Web site, Sullivan says the same is not true for the rest of the country.
“Nationwide we’ve produced fewer engineers today than we did in 1988,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said that increasing the number of engineers the U.S. produces is vital to maintaining its position a world economic power.
“Engineering is the core of what drives our economy. How do we maintain being a significant player in the world of innovations if we don’t have more people becoming interested in a career in engineering?” Sullivan said.
The ITL Program also works closely with the Denver School of Science and Technology to help women, minorities and the poor become further involved in engineering.
According to the Women in Engineering Organization’s Web site, there is a lack of women receiving engineering degrees.
Sullivan said the effects of the ITL Program on the engineering school’s female undergraduate students are tangible.
“Women students that have a hands-on, project-oriented, team-based learning experience in their first year have a differentially higher retention rate within the school,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said she is proud of the work that she has done over the years, but she is more interested in what else she can do to improve the program.
“It’s good to look back on achievements, but we’re looking into the future growth and challenges of the program,” Sullivan said.
Carlson says even though the program started with just a vision, he has seen it grow into an excellent learning environment that students overwhelmingly value and appreciate.
“Just this week, the mother of a Success Institute student I had last summer called to see how her son’s application to CU engineering was coming. ‘You’ve spoiled him,’ she said. ‘He doesn’t want to go anywhere else now,’ ” Carlson said.
Participants in the ITL Program, including high school students, get a chance to exhibit their designs at the Design Expo at the end of every semester. This semester’s Design Expo will be held April 26 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the ITL building.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Stephen Oskay at Stephen.Oskay@thecampuspress.com.
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