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04-19-1999

Clarkson Student Success Shows Curriculum At National Forefront

When the Clarkson team took two first-place awards in the ninth annual Environmental Design Contest held in New Mexico on April 15, it was just the latest in a series of demonstrations that the University's curriculum is at the national forefront in preparing students for the 21st century.

"We have restructured our course work to link student experiences to real-world needs through emphasis on collaborative interdisciplinary projects and development of communication skills," says Vice President for Academic Affairs Anthony G. Collins. "And clearly our approach is working."

Not only did the Clarkson environmental design team provide the best solution to a specific waste clean-up task, it also won for "Best Paper Presentation." Judges cited the paper as the best in competition history and said it would be the model for all future teams. Consider as well:

-In that same week, a poster from a collaborative chemistry research project involving Clarkson sophomore Jeffrey Rockwell was on display in Washington, D.C., after selection in the prestigious "Posters on the Hill" event sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research.

-In March, Clarkson's student Construction Management Team won the Region-One competition at the Associated Schools of Construction conference in New Jersey. Their presentation also earned high accolades from judges. This was Clarkson's first year in the competition, the team comprised only freshmen and sophomores, and it was the first time a rookie team ever won.

-In preparing for the upcoming Sunrayce in June, the Clarkson Solar Electric Vehicle Racing Team was awarded first place (among 44 entries that included the biggest engineering schools in the country) and a $9,000 grant for having written and presented the best project proposal.

"We take our graduates' disciplinary excellence for granted," Collins observed. "And now we have implemented an educational vision that incorporates a new model of learning. We are adding further value to their education by improving their skills in teaming, communicating, and twenty-first century technologies."

Currently some 250 Clarkson undergraduates participate in collaborative research projects and about the same number, from all disciplines, are involved in 16 multidisciplinary academic team competitions, such as the environmental and solar teams, through an umbrella program called SPEED-- Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design.

"It is not by chance that we have had these four recent examples of successful student collaborations and presentations," says Collins. "A picture is emerging that shows Clarkson with an educational process second to none."

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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