Feb 12, 2008

National Engineers Week February 17 - 23: Students Spin Hard Drives, Build Robots and Compete in Math Marathon at Seagate-Sponsored Events

LONGMONT, Colo. - In the United States, where the number of college grads with engineering degrees has been dwindling for more than a decade, Seagate is doing its part to rekindle interest in this field by funding K-12 educational programs in math, science and technology—a No. 1 priority in Seagate’s corporate-wide community-outreach program. Here in Colorado, three of the company’s sponsored programs are showcased during National Engineers Week, Feb. 17 – 23.

On Saturday, Feb. 23, middle-school girls throughout the state will find out what it’s like to be a veterinarian, an astronomer – even a crime scene investigator – during the 2008 Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) Conference from 10 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. at the University of Colorado – Boulder Engineering Center.

The event, sponsored by Seagate Technology and presented by the Boulder Branch of the AAUW and the Boulder Latina Women’s League, is open to girls in grades 6 through 8. The conference features hands-on science workshops led by women working in science, math and technology fields, including several engineers and scientists from Seagate, The National Center for Atmospheric Research, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CU-Boulder’s departments of Aerospace, Biochemistry, Anthropology and Mechanical Engineering and the university’s Fisk Planetarium; the Denver Zoo; the Boulder Police Department and Denver County Coroner’s office. Workshop activities include: working magic with nitrogen, building a hard drive, exploring the stars, constructing DNA necklaces, and much more.

In addition, parents are invited to attend the EYH Parents’ Program on that day; the program offers strategies for supporting their daughters’ academic success and paying for college tuition. All middle-school science teachers are also invited, with an added incentive for high student attendance. Teachers with the highest number of students attending have an opportunity to earn a $100 gift certificate for classroom supplies and equipment from the Carolina Biological Supply Company.

For the past 12 years, the Boulder Branch of the AAUW has been organizing and sponsoring the Expanding Your Horizons Conference. “We’re very pleased to be joining forces with the Boulder County Latina Women's League and Seagate Technology, to once again offer this event to middle-school girls, supporting our mission of promoting education and equity for women and girls,” said AAUW member Mary Hassler.

As corporate sponsor of EYH, Seagate provides funding to the organization, as well as intellectual resources, in the form of science workshop kits designed by Seagate engineers and scientists in the U.S. and Northern Ireland. These kits are available to EYH conference leaders around the world. In addition, Seagate women engineers are leading science workshops at EYH conferences in the U.S., the U.K., Malaysia and Singapore.

“Seagate is committed on a global scale to supporting education in math and science in its communities,” said Andy Davis, vice president of design at Seagate. “By supporting EYH, we hope to help cultivate the next generation of women engineers and scientists.”

Registration is $10 for the conference and $12 for Parents’ Program. Both include lunch. Event fee scholarships are available. To register online, visit http://www.coaauw.org/boulder-eyh/registration.html. For more information and for paper registration, contact Mary Hassler at maryh2@ix.netcom.com or 303-448-9669. Registration deadline is Feb. 19.

Mathcounts Competition
Also at the CU-Boulder campus on Saturday, Feb. 23, Room 140 of the Cristol Chemistry Building will be unusually quiet—despite the fact that the room will be filled with more than 100 middle-school students, most of whom will be pumped up on sugar. Wired on jelly donuts and Jolly Rancher candy, but extremely focused, these adolescent math whizzes will compete in the 2008 Boulder County Mathcounts Competition, sponsored by Seagate.

With teams representing nearly two dozen middle schools throughout Boulder County, these sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders will be competing against the clock, and each other, to solve mathematical problems that would befuddle many adults. The event includes four rounds, with the first three rounds done on paper and the final done orally, before all participants and coaches. Much like a TV game show, the pressure will be intense in this final round, when all are eliminated but a few top teams and individuals, who then advance to the statewide competition in March.

“We’ve been observing these kids in action since we began sponsoring Matchcounts seven years ago, and they’re pretty amazing,” said Seagate’s Davis. “Judging by the mental energy and enthusiasm they demonstrate each year at these competitions, it’s clear they’re bound to be the next generation of top-notch technical professionals—the kind we like to hire at Seagate. We’re encouraged to see this kind of enthusiasm and we’re proud to support a program like Mathcounts, which helps kids build skills that will serve them well in whatever career they choose.”

The Boulder County Mathcounts competition begins at 8 a.m. The final competition is at 1 p.m., followed by an awards presentation.

FIRST Robotics
Meanwhile, students from high schools in Longmont, Niwot and Lafayette have been spending the last six weeks getting a crash course in high-tech product development. For these teams of aspiring engineers, the product is a life-sized robot that – if all goes well – will perform a series of mechanical tasks before hundreds of tech-savvy spectators and a few eagle-eyed judges next month at the FIRST Robotics Colorado Regional Competition in Denver.

Working alongside these students for the past six weeks are engineers from Seagate Technology, Ball Aerospace, Lockheed-Martin and IBM. These engineers, who serve as mentors for the teams, bring with them a wealth of expertise in mechanical, electrical and software engineering – all essential disciplines in designing these complex computer-programmed machines. The mentors also bring a level of enthusiasm to the process that makes it hard to distinguish between the kids on the teams and the adults.

Seagate has donated $12,000 to four high-school teams: the St. Vrain Valley MESA (Math, Engineering, Science Achievement) team of students from the Casa de la Esperanza community in Longmont; and the Silver Creek, Niwot and Monarch High School teams. The Seagate funds go toward the teams’ competition entry fees and a bare-bones kit of parts. What these students add in the way of parts, for a more advanced robot, depends on their ability to raise additional funds, as well as their technical innovation.

In the week ahead, these teams will be scrambling to work the bugs out of their mechanical inventions before shipping them off to a storage facility where they’ll be held until the competition, March 28-30, at the University of Denver’s Ritchie Center.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a multinational non-profit organization that aspires to transform culture, making science, math, engineering and technology “cool” for kids as sports are today. The FIRST Robotics Competition involves nearly a thousand teams from the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Great Britain.

About Mathcounts
Mathcounts was founded in 1983 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and CNA Foundation. The program is designed to cultivate strategic problem-solving skills in middle-school students. More than five million students have participated in Mathcounts, which operates in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands and worldwide schools run by the U.S. Department of Defense and State Department.

About EYH
EYH is an international non-profit organization committed to promoting the continuing development in mathematics and science among all people, with a particular emphasis on the needs of women and girls. Conferences are designed to nurture girls' interest in science and math courses and to encourage them to consider science and math-based career options such as engineering, computer science and physical science.

About Seagate
Seagate is the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of hard disc drives and storage solutions, providing products for a wide-range of applications, including Enterprise, Desktop, Mobile Computing, Consumer Electronics and Branded Solutions. Seagate's business model leverages technology leadership and world-class manufacturing to deliver industry-leading innovation and quality to its global customers, with the goal of being the time-to-market leader in all markets in which it participates. The company is committed to providing award-winning products, customer support and reliability to meet the world's growing demand for information storage. Seagate can be found around the globe and at http://www.seagate.com.

Seagate, Seagate Technology and the Wave logo are registered trademarks of Seagate Technology, LLC.