August 1, 2007
07-124

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Barry Hojjatie Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences Dept. (229)333-5753

VSU Pre-Engineering Program Awarded $120,000 HP Grant

VALDOSTA - The Pre-Engineering program at Valdosta State University was one of ten in the nation that were awarded a 2007 HP Technology for Teaching Leadership award designed to transform and improve learning in the classroom through innovative uses of technology.

In 2006, the University received a $69,000 Technology for Teaching Initiative grant to use for its project, "Using Mobile Technology to Improve Visualization, Technical Communication, and Analytical Skills of Engineering and Science Students and to Facilitate Student Learning," This effort uses HP resources in teaching fundamental engineering, physics, geology, and biology courses.
Leadership awards, like VSU’s 2007 award, are additional, higher value grants awarded to HP Technology for Teaching grant recipients, who projects demonstrate success in their first year of implementation. VSU was selected for reinvestment because of its success in using HP technology to enhance instruction, demonstrating a measurable, positive impact on student achievement, and proposing innovative plans to expand their programs to have broader impact on student success.

According to Dr. Barry Hojjatie, the principal investigator (PI) of the project, traditional methods of teaching engineering, physics, and other applied science courses give limited opportunities for student-student and student-faculty interactions, and in many cases, connection between theoretical materials lectured in classroom and real-life engineering applications does not exist. VSU will use Tablet PC technology to engage students in classroom and field-based activities to improve their visualizations and analytical skills related to engineering and science courses and make better connection between theory and practice.

“Our pre-engineering program is linked to Georgia Tech and because of a potential for enhancement of learning outcome in fundamental engineering and science courses through this project, we are hoping to increase the rate of retention in our program and be able to transfer more quality students to Georgia Tech and other engineering schools and positively impact the quality of teaching in other programs at VSU college of Arts and Sciences,” Hojjatie said

The program involves collaborations with faculty from different VSU programs as well as faculty members from Lake City Community College and the University of Florida College of Dentistry, including co-PI Professor Homa Hooshmand (LCCC) and Professors Mark Groszos, Can Denizman, Perry Baskin and Karl Söderholm (UF). The project has also received a commitment from VSU's Information Technology Director Joe Newton, who will be responsible for the installation and maintenance of the equipment and other support related to instructional technology activities. Beatriz Potter, VSU Distance Learning, will be involved as well.

Based on the results from the first phase of the project, most students have expressed more interest in learning fundamentals in engineering and science courses when they have been engaged in collaborative learning and field based projects through the use of the Tablet PC technology.

“Applications of this technology can make learning and teaching more meaningful and enjoyable for most students and faculty,” Hojjatie said.

Valdosta State University is one of 10 HP Technology for Teaching higher education grant recipients selected for the Leadership award in 2007. The award package includes HP Tablet PCs, cash and professional development with a total value of more than $120,000 and will benefit the university's pre-engineering, physics, Geosciences and other sciences programs at VSU. In addition to the equipment and cash, the Principal Investigator of the VSU Project will attend the annual HP Technology for Teaching Worldwide Higher Education Conference to be held in San Diego, Calif. in February 2008.

Since 2004, HP has contributed approximately $44 million in HP Technology for Teaching grants to more than 850 schools worldwide. During the past 20 years, HP has contributed more than $1 billion in cash and equipment to schools, universities, community organizations and other nonprofit organizations around the world.

More information about the 2007 HP Technology for Teaching program and grant recipients is available at www.hp.com/go/hpteach . More information about Valdosta State University Pre-engineering program and the HP technology in teaching project is available at www.valdosta.edu/~bhojjati .