Waterman Awardees Present to NSB, Visit Local High Schools

May 10th, 2012 by Erwin Gianchandani Post a comment »

(This post has been updated; please scroll down for the latest.)

Scott Aaronson and Robert Wood, the joint recipients of the 2012 Alan T. Waterman Award, visited the National Science Foundation (NSF) last week. In addition to presenting to the National Science Board (NSB) and chatting with NSF staff, they spent some time describing their research projects and experiences to local high school students, as part of an effort to engage and inspire students’ interest in computer science. Wood visited with about 100 students at Yorktown High School in Arlington, VA, while Aaronson spoke to about 150 students at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ”) in Alexandria, VA.

At Yorktown, Wood described the latest techniques he is using to develop micro robots in his lab at Harvard. He spoke about biologically-inspired technology versus bio-mimetics, and emphasized the multidisciplinary nature of his research and some of its practical applications. He also gave students very valuable advice on how to pursue engineering school as well as academic and practicing careers in engineering.

During Aaronson’s trip to TJ, he became an honorary Colonial (TJ’s mascot). He had dreamed of going to TJ for high school and, during his short tour of the school, relished in all of the opportunities available to students in the science and technology fields. After his engaging presentation on quantum computing, Aaronson fielded several excellent questions — demonstrating impressive comprehension of this complex topic by many in the audience.

See photos of Wood and Aaronson at the high schools, plus video of their presentations to the NSB, after the jump…

Photos of Wood (top left) and Aaronson (top right, bottom left, and bottom right) at Yorktown and TJ, respectively:

Robert Wood visiting Yorktown High School last Friday [image courtesy Mayra Montrose]. Scott Aaronson visiting TJHSST last Friday.
Scott Aaronson visiting TJHSST last Friday. Scott Aaronson visiting TJHSST last Friday.

And their talks to the NSB:

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Updated Thursday, May 10th at 1:45pm EDT: For more details about the Waterman awardees and their visit to the DC area last week, read a news release that NSF issued just a few minutes ago. In addition, NSF has posted short one-on-one interviews with Aaronson and Wood.

(Contributed by Ann DrobnisNSF/CISE Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, and Gera Jochum, NSF/CISE Communications Specialist)