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Innovate: Fueling Change & #8212; Kids Explore Alternative Energy Resources in New Video

Tue, 02/15/2011 - 4:37am
Society of Manufacturing Engineers

The SME Education Foundation celebrates National Engineers Week – Feb. 20-26 with the distribution of "Innovate: Fueling Change," a video designed to increase student awareness of green technology careers and STEM-based education.

DEARBORN, Mich., February 14, 2011 — Why should the fact that tech-based careers are cool, fun, and offer lots of opportunities in a variety of industries including green technology, continue to be a best-kept secret for young people? The SME Education Foundation has taken an aggressive stance in supporting National Engineers Week – February 20-26 with the production and distribution of a new video, "Innovate: Fueling Change." The video is being distributed to 4,000 Project Lead the Way (PLTW) classrooms and after school programs across the country and beyond.

"Innovate: Fueling Change," follows the learning experiences of a diverse group of high school students as they address the need to use existing energy sources efficiently and explore alternative energy resources by converting French-fry grease into bio-fuel. Their learning experience expands as they meet with a team of engineers, who as students built a solar home as part of the Solar Decathlon national competition.

"We're building a collaborative educational network which brings together innovative thinking geared to motivate STEM education," says Bart A. Aslin, director, SME Education Foundation. "In this video, students learn that shared knowledge, creative thinking and a unified vision in a team environment make this a win-win for everyone. We hope that students watching the learning experiences of other students will have them reconsider their own their own potential."

The video focuses on energy conservation as young people collaborate and help each other navigate learning new technologies while they make fuel to power their truck, coming up with a co-generation idea and sharing it with engineers who built a solar home. Working on this green technology project, they learn about energy conservation, its complexities and career opportunities. As they use science, technology, engineering and math in solving the project's problems, they later question themselves about how they are currently using energy resources and are enthused, saying they can make it better.

Viewers watch the students picking up gallon containers of the grease from the campus kitchen, and moving their "Bio-fuel Production System" outside. And later, after developing their bio-for their decaled "Green" truck, their excitement is palatable as the engine starts and they are to drive it around the campus parking lot.

The students' learning experience evolves and their co-generation idea of taking the energy out of their bio-fuel truck and using it to power a home has them visiting the 2009 Penn State Solar Decathlon home and meeting members of the original team.

Major funding for the production of the video has been provided by the SME Education Foundation, Lockheed Martin, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Verizon. The video is a production of Creative Expansions, Inc., Helene Lerner is the Executive Producer. www.womenworking.com. For a sneak peak at the ten-minute video, visit http://www.womenworking.com/latest-video-sneak-peak.

The SME Education Foundation launched its Gateway Academy pilot program in 2006, introducing five academies in two states (California and New York). Thanks to donor funding, 237 Gateway Academies were offered in 34 states reaching 4,800 students. The Gateway Academy Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)-based curriculum designed by Project Lead The Way, is taught by PLTW-trained teachers.

The National Engineers Week Foundation coalition comprises more than 75 engineering, professional, and technical societies and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. The coalition is dedicated to sustaining and growing a dynamic engineering profession by ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce, increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers among young students, and promoting pre-college literacy in math and science. Among the oldest of America's professional outreach efforts, the coalition also raises public understanding and appreciation of engineering contributions to society through year-round innovative programming and celebration. Visit http://www.eweek.org/Home.aspx.

The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, supporting and preparing the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists in the advancement of manufacturing education. Created by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $31 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations, and individual donors. Visit the SME Education Foundation at www.smeef.org. Also visit www.CareerMe.org, for information on careers in advanced manufacturing and our award-winning Web site for young people, www.ManufacturingisCool.com.

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