Genius grant goes to outstanding engineering educator

Deepest congratulations to Amir
, inspiration to the next generation of engineers and new recipient
of a $500,000 no-strings-attached MacArthur Genius Grant. 

Abo-Shaeer was selected for his ground-breaking work as a
physics teacher and founder of the Dos Pueblos
Engineering Academy
, a model of the kind of education that can dramatically
change students' lives. The school within a school in Santa Barbara, Calif., delivers a
rigorous applied science curriculum that integrates physics, engineering and
math; hands-on building projects; and competitions like FIRST
Robotics. DPEA has managed the rare feat of attracting young women to
engineering education – they make up approximately half the DPEA student body,
well above the national average in advanced sciences.

“Abo-Shaeer’s novel and effective model of science
education is instilling a passion for the physical sciences in young men and
women and is contributing to the preparation of the next generation of
scientists and engineers for the twenty-first century,” says the foundation.

The DPEA program is weaving entrepreneurship and business
into its programming and building a new 12,000-square foot engineering
, which will be a far cry from its current 900 square feet. The
campus will include a machine shop, prototype shop, computer lab, conference
room, and three classrooms. Abo-Shaeer’s team is hoping to triple enrollment
and turn fewer heartbroken students away.

We’d also like to give a shout out to DPEA’s FIRST
Robotics team,
“Team 1717,” also known as the D’Penguineers, winners of multiple awards at the
regional and international levels of FIRST. Team members work full time for six
weeks to design, build, and program their Penguinbot. Earlier this year, the
team requested and received our sponsorship – 50 licenses of SolidWorks
Student Edition
, which includes our high-end simulation products. This is
Team 1717’s fourth year using our software. We bumped into the team most
recently at the national championships in April at the Georgia Dome. They’re an
impressive group who are pretty enthusiastic about  engineering 
and using SolidWorks to design excellent robots.

 If you want to learn more about Abo-Shaeer, DPEA, and
their robotics accomplishments, read the book. “The
New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle
of Smarts
” is  due in March 2011.


Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Director of Education & Early Engagement, SolidWorks at Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corporation
Marie Planchard is Director of the Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS. She is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the SOLIDWORKS products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.
Marie Planchard