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Clarkson Honors Program Students Awarded Grant For Project
[Photo in JPEG format is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/honors.jpg.]
Potsdam, N.Y.–Clarkson University's Honors Program, which just started in the fall of 1997, is off to a flying start.
The Honors sophomore class has been awarded a $6,700 grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) in order to continue working on DAX2000, an interactive learning tool they have developed for middle-school students.
The main innovative feature of DAX 2000 is its power to educate the user via experiential learning. The game aims at helping middle-school students understand the interdependence of the types of problem occurring in the park, as well as in the world in general.
DAX 2000 contains information on the park as well as the regulations that need to be considered when making decisions. The program monitors about 30 different variables that make up all the economical, ecological, and sociological values within the park (i.e. employment, land value, pollution, tree health, aesthetics, etc.).
The class was divided into four groups: engineering, economics, ecology, and ethics/social policy. Each of the groups were guided by a professor from the field in question. Within weeks, the students more or less took over everything, from running the meetings, to deciding about what should be done, and when.
The class soon realized that this project could not be finished during one semester and, after a suggestion from School of Business Professor Jon Vilasuso, who worked with the economics group, the class decided to apply for a grant to fund further development of the product. Working together with Gina Lee- Glauser, director of Research at Clarkson, the students decided that the NCIIA level III-grant would be the most appropriate to apply for. The NCIIA provides financial support for courses that promote invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship and support the work of E-teams. E-teams are multidisciplinary student/faculty teams that identify real-world problems and invent practical solutions with social benefit or commercial potential. The Level III grant that the Honors students chose to apply for is NCIIA's most advanced grants program. It supports later-stage development of an idea and the commercialization of an idea or concept.
All of us who were involved in the DAX2000 project last semester knew we were on to something challenging and important, said School of Liberal Arts Professor William Vitek, who worked with the social policy and ethics group. "The NCIIA grant is proof that we were not the only ones who thought so."
Honors Program Director Professor David Craig is very satisfied with the outcome of the first semester of the program, and says, "The NCIIA grant is a tribute to what the Honors class of 2000 has already achieved. In order to create a simulation game, the students first had to understand the problems of the Adirondack Park that they were modeling. With DAX 2000, the students will be sharing what they learned with the middle-school students who play the game. This is the kind of project that educational companies usually undertake, not college sophomores."
Thanks to the support of Clarkson University, four of the students will attend the 2nd Annual NCIIA Conference in Washington, D.C. in March. The students hope to learn more about patenting, copyrighting, and about what other E-teams are doing around the country. This year the students attend the conference to look and learn, but next year they hope to be part of the student exhibition.