SolidWorks invests in education

SolidWorks Corporation (www.solidworks.com) has announced it would grant as many as 1,000 new licenses of SolidWorks Student Edition 3D CAD software to individual U.S. educators dedicated to improving students’ science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. The SolidWorks-STEM Educators II grant is the second consecutive year of the initiative and includes training and lesson plans to help teachers and faculty from elementary school through college integrate the four separate disciplines for more effective education.

SolidWorks is also working with math and science education resource Ten80 Education to launch a nationwide contest in which high school students optimize, modify through design, and race a series of 10th scale model remote-control cars. The FastTrack National Challenge League is based on the Math2Go Accelerated program in which students learn and apply the fundamentals of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as they model, design, and test their cars to drive farther and faster. SolidWorks is providing every team with free licenses of SolidWorks 3D CAD software along with the online resources to share car models, ask questions, and even show off their designs.

“3D CAD software is a perfect storm of science, technology, engineering, and math, and it brings these disciplines home in a vivid, interactive way that nails the question, how is this relevant?” said Herbert Crosby, professor of mechanical engineering technology at the University of Maine. Crosby was among the first educators to secure a SolidWorks STEM grant and create a course using SolidWorks software to strengthen STEM instruction.

CAD software is adept at conveying 2D and 3D geometry concepts to younger students and illustrating algebra and physics principles in later years. Teachers can apply these topics in a wide range of engineering projects – for example, designing small-scale cars or simulating the effects of design changes on air flow.

With backing by the National Science Foundation (NSF), STEM is an emerging movement in American education aimed at improving technological literacy and global competitiveness. STEM addresses warning signs found in numerous studies showing the United States falling behind in engineering graduation rates and math/science proficiency.

The SolidWorks-STEM Educators II grant includes:
• One copy of SolidWorks Student Edition software;
• SolidWorks Education Edition curriculum and courseware CD for instructors;
• A self-paced online course that demonstrates ways educators can incorporate 3D geometry with STEM concepts;
• 20 hours of step-by-step tutorials;
• Access to the SolidWorks Teacher Community Web site at http://blogs.solidworks.com/teacher;
• Monthly online SolidWorks-STEM symposia focusing on new approaches to math (including algebra and geometry), biology, chemistry, physics, art, and economics;
• Opportunity to become certified as a Certified SolidWorks Associate; and
• Opportunity to accredit one’s institution as a Certified SolidWorks Associate Exam Provider.

After completing the online course, teachers must demonstrate their competency by producing a short STEM lesson for the classroom that will be shared on the SolidWorks Teacher Community Web site. SolidWorks will then provide an electronic certificate to the teacher documenting 30 hours of professional development work.

Teachers that receive a certificate are eligible for additional advanced online training classes preparing them for the Certified SolidWorks Associate (CSWA) Exam. Primarily for students, the CSWA Exam is a comprehensive assessment that measures competencies in 3D CAD modeling technology, engineering principles, standards, and industry practices. It helps educators gauge individual student progress as well as curricula effectiveness. The CSWA certification gives manufacturing companies and design firms tangible proof of competency as students enter the job market. When a grant recipient passes the exam, the institution becomes eligible to become a CSWA Provider. The CSWA Exam is available in the following languages: English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese.

How to apply
Teachers must apply for SolidWorks-STEM Educators II grants by May 30, 2007 at (www.solidworks.com/stemgrant) Grants will be awarded in May and June 2007, and assignments must be completed during the summer of 2007. For more information, listen to a podcast on the SolidWorks-STEM Educators grant at (www.solidworks.com/mediapodcast)

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