Westminster Professor to be Awarded 2014 Governor's Medal for Science, Technology

Mar 30, 2015

March 31, 2015 Dr. Helen Hu will receive the "education" award for her efforts to promote STEM education in Utah SALT LAKE CITY - Dr. Helen Hu, Westminster professor of computer science, will be presented the 2014 Governor's Medal for Science and Technology in the "education" field at an award ceremony on April 15. The medal will be presented by Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, along with the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative and Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED). The Governor's Medals for Science and Technology are awarded to residents and companies who have provided distinguished service or made significant contributions to Utah's advanced scientific and technological knowledge, education and industry. This year, eight medals will be awarded to individuals and companies who have supported STEM-science, technology, engineering and math-efforts. "Workforce development and STEM education are top priorities in the state for sustaining future economic growth," said Gov. Herbert. "I am pleased to highlight the efforts of these innovative leaders and am grateful to see that our future workforce has the best of the best role models to inspire them." Dr. Hu will be recognized for developing a new computer science course that is currently offered at 50 high schools in Utah. "I am honored and thrilled to be recognized for this work. Providing students in Utah the opportunity to take a computer science course at their local school is critical to addressing the STEM skills gap," said Hu. "This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Hu," said Westminster Provost Lisa Gentile. "In addition to the work she is doing in computer science in our high school communities, she is also making a tremendous impact on our campus in terms of how we work with STEM students from underrepresented communities." Medals are awarded in fields of academia, education and industry. For a complete list of winners, visit: business.utah.gov   About Dr. Helen Hu: Professor of computer science, Dr. Helen Hu introduced a course, Exploring Computer Science (ECS), to Utah high schools via a three-year National Science Foundation (NFS) grant (2013-2015). In two years, 72 Utah teachers have been trained, and that number is expected to double in 2015. ECS is currently offered at 50 schools in 21 public school districts, plus charter and private schools. The ECS course teaches foundational skills in problem solving, group learning and understanding computers. Most importantly, all ECS students learn what computer science is. Because ECS fulfills the computer tech graduation requirement, it reaches a broader range of students than most other computer science courses. Hu is a passionate advocate for STEM education. In 2014, she won a Helmsley Charitable Trust grant to increase diversity and equity in STEM education. Also in 2014, Hu successfully petitioned the Utah Board of Education that AP computer science courses count as a science credit. In 2012, she founded the Utah chapter of Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), and for ten years, she has run the CS portion of AWE+SUM Summer Camp, a hands-on, residential STEM camp for 8th grade girls. In 2014, she won an educational excellence award from the Women Tech Council.

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About Westminster

Westminster is a private, independent, and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just, and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning, and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains.

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