7/10/2002 - National Instruments (Nasdaq: NATI) and The University of Texas at Austin this week open the third and final session of a summer training program for school teachers interested in teaching the fundamentals of robotics and engineering. Now in its third year, the program to date has trained 140 teachers in 12 school districts and continues to experience phenomenal growth.
Known as the DTEACh (Design Technology and Engineering for America's Children) RoboLab Summer Institute, the training helps teachers bring modern computer and engineering tools to the classroom by introducing them to RoboLab. Based on NI LabVIEW software, RoboLab works with LEGO building blocks to challenge students from kindergarten through high school to develop critical problem solving skills through the building and programming of robotic models. In addition to providing teachers an opportunity to learn about this unique blend of technology, DTEACh partners them with NI engineers who will volunteer significant time in classrooms throughout the academic year.
The use of RoboLab in classrooms throughout Central Texas has grown thanks in part to the pioneering work of a few teachers, such as Kathleen Crowe, a fifth-grade teacher at Jack C. Murchison Elementary in Pflugerville, Texas. Crowe has created guidelines for mapping RoboLab to statewide Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) education goals. During the summer training, she instructs teachers how to integrate RoboLab into everything from mathematics to literature.
"Because my students love building and programming with RoboLab, I have found ways to integrate it throughout their lessons," Crowe said. "As word has spread about the many ways you can use RoboLab, so has other teachers' interest. Three years ago, I was the only teacher at Murchison Elementary using RoboLab -- now we have eight."
Because of rising demand, this year NI and UT expanded the summer training institute from two to three sessions. Teachers from the Lubbock and Houston school districts interested in starting their own programs attended this year's DTEACh, as did a group of Austin Independent School District schoolteachers attending through a technology grant.
"More than 500,000 kids worldwide have worked with RoboLab, and its popularity continues to grow," said John Graff, NI Vice President of Marketing. "To maximize the effectiveness of RoboLab, we want to help teachers integrate it into their classrooms. That is why our employee volunteers work so closely with Central Texas teachers. In fact, in 2001, our volunteers spent more than 4,000 hours in area classrooms."
Since 1999 the UT College of Engineering has offered summer training for RoboLab through a sponsorship from NI. This year more than 50 teachers have participated in the eight-day training sessions held in UT engineering labs.
RoboLab results from a joint effort among NI, Tufts University, and the Pitsco LEGO Educational Division. Through RoboLab, students begin to learn the same skills that professional engineers apply to solve thousands of technical problems, from designing next-generation computers to improving car safety. Students control their inventions through a programmable LEGO brick that runs the software based on NI LabVIEW.
About the UT College of Engineering
The College of Engineering at UT Austin is ranked 10th in quality among the more than 300 accredited engineering schools in the United States. Only two other schools in the nation have more faculty members elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the engineering profession's highest honor. These faculty teach the College's 6,000 students and conduct more than $90 million in research annually. More information about the College can be found on the Web www.engr.utexas.edu. UT Austin Engineering professors Kris Wood and Richard Crawford along with teacher and educator professor Marilyn Fowler developed the DTEACh program.
About National Instruments
NI leverages commercial technologies, such as industry-standard computers and the Internet, to deliver customer-defined measurement and automation solutions. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 2,900 employees and direct sales offices in more than 37 countries. NI increases the productivity of engineers and scientists worldwide by delivering easy-to-integrate software and modular hardware. In 2001, the company sold products to more than 24,000 different companies in more than 60 countries around the world. For the past three consecutive years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.
NI investment information may be obtained from the company's Investor Relations Department on the Web at ni.com/nati, by sending e-mail to email@example.com, or by calling (512) 683-5090.
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