Published: Sept. 19, 2006

The College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder has committed to providing 10 four-year merit scholarships averaging $2,000 per year to 2007 graduates of the Pre-Engineering Academy at Lafayette's Centaurus High School. In 2008, the offering will grow to 16 scholarships.

"We hope that these scholarships will enable more of these young women and men to stay in Colorado for their collegiate study of engineering," said Jackie Sullivan, director of the Technology and Engineering to Advance Math and Science, or TEAMS, initiative at CU-Boulder.

Sullivan said the university is eager to work together with the Boulder Valley School District to create even more opportunities for future engineering students. Students who are underrepresented in engineering, including women, minority students and first-generation college students, also are eligible for additional scholarships from CU-Boulder's Women in Engineering Program and Multicultural Engineering Program.

The TEAMS initiative is an orchestrated program offering pre-engineering studies to Lafayette students in grades 3 through 12. About 1,800 students in 65 elementary, middle school and high school classes in the Lafayette neighborhood schools are engaged in hands-on engineering weekly, according to Sullivan. The TEAMS initiative is an outgrowth of a program supported by the National Science Foundation.

Students have access to specialized computers and sophisticated engineering software, which offers a huge benefit along with the pre-engineering instruction, according to Isobel Stevenson, principal of Angevine Middle School. CU-Boulder graduate and undergraduate engineering students come into the BVSD schools weekly as part of the TEAMS program that teaches students about real-world engineering and underscores the importance of science and math to students' everyday lives.

"The students who go through the CHS pre-engineering program are well ahead of their college-bound peers," said Diana Wiant, a teacher at Centaurus High School. "Regardless of whether they go into engineering, these students will have a chance of going to their college of choice." That's because the pre-engineering students are learning in a "project-based, team-oriented problem solving" atmosphere, Wiant said.

Angevine Middle School offers two technology classes, which are coordinated with the program at Centaurus High School. "We use these classes to generate interest in the program at Centaurus," said Stevenson. "The district has purchased software and computers that are unlike any others in BVSD, which supports this program and the partnership with CU-Boulder."

Wiant said the program is always in need of practicing or recently retired engineers to serve as mentors for various projects. Many of these professionals can discuss current innovations their companies may be working on and Wiant welcomes these individuals to the program for its continued growth and success.

"Without the support of the Lafayette schools, local business and the vital partnership between BVSD and CU-Boulder's College of Engineering, this program could not have happened," Wiant said.