IMSA: Developing a Diverse Pipeline of Innovative Leaders for the World

Jose M. Torres, PhD, President Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Article ID: 695985

Released: 18-Jun-2018 8:55 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)

Newswise — Advancements in global technology are happening closer than you think and by those younger than you might imagine.  The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) serving talented Illinois students in grades 10-12 in suburban Aurora, IL is nurturing a strong and diverse pipeline of innovative leaders preparing to solve the world’s most complex social problems through new tech spaces, partnerships that combine education and research with practical knowledge and equity and excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning.

With the opening of a 6,400 state-of-the-art innovation center to stimulate entrepreneurial activity, design prototypes and launch new ideas, IMSA continues to inspire the next generation of innovators.  In fact, IMSA alumni have been driving the technology sector over the past decade. Andrew Baptist (’94), Greg Dhuse (’99), Dusty Hendrickson (’01) and Ethan Wozniak (’99) are responsible for 212 of 350 patents generated by data storage leader, Cleversafe, one of Chicago’s hottest tech companies.  This patent portfolio is in the top 10 globally and succeeded in driving the $1.3 billion sale of the company to IBM in 2016 – one of Illinois’ largest tech exits ever. Sam Yagan (’95) relocated his tech company, ShopRunner, to Illinois and also co-founded OkCupid, SparkNotes, Techstars Chicago and venture investment fund, Corazon Capital.  In addition, Jessica Droste Yagan (’95) runs Impact Engine investing in socially minded early-stage startups that improve economic empowerment, education, health and resource efficiency. Other notable technology alumni include YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, PayPal co-creator Yu Pan, Yelp co-founder Russell Simmons and Hearsay Social counder, Clara Shih.

Current Academy students like Harrison Carcione, Charles Kuch, Soomin Park and Peijing Xu, under world-class faculty like Dr. Peter Dong, are taking technological advancements to new heights with the development of a tracking system to be used in maritime mobile satellite communications.  Other students like Addison Herr are designing virtual reality science labs which simulate experiments for broadcast in classrooms throughout the state making STEM education more accessible for all Illinois students.

Helping talented young minds hone and develop their most salient skills and passions to make a personal impact on the world through technology is not the only innovative model IMSA is in pursuit of.  Collaborations and partnerships that combine education and research with practical knowledge to enhance problem-solving is another key initiative. IMSA students spend 20% of their time outside of the classroom working in a breadth of fields from space exploration under the guidance of 70 world-leading institutions including the University of Chicago, Northwestern and the Adler Planetarium to tech startups and over 11,000 hours of internships at Chicago’s 1871.  

Guided by the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, IMSA is embedding these goals into its curriculum where appropriate, in its research programs, in its innovation efforts and throughout its leadership programs.  Moreover, IMSA will host the 2018 International Student Science Fair next June collaborating on an international stage with 40 schools from across the globe on solutions to three global challenges that transcend national boundaries: energy, hunger and water. The event theme, “To significantly influence life on our planet through cooperation and collaboration”, emphasizes IMSA’s mission to ignite creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

IMSA’s foundational philosophy of equity and excellence underpins its mission to ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds than advance the human condition.  IMSA continues to seek and support talented students throughout Illinois with a passion and interest in mathematics and science and is making a concerted effort to recruit and support high ability, low income students.   For example, IMSA’s PROMISE Programs address the challenges of underrepresented and underserved students through year-round academic enrichment programming at low or no cost. Held on the campus of IMSA with transportation provided from Chicago, PROMISE programs provide students the opportunity to work with IMSA faculty, staff and student mentors learning more about IMSA’s unique learning laboratory and encouraging future admission to its tuition-free residential Academy.  The program includes exposure to curriculum that increases skills in math, science and English, hands-on learning, SAT preparedness and practice testing. Last year, 44% of PROMISE participants were admitted and enrolled into IMSA.

IMSA is proud to have been named among the top 40 public and private college preparatory institutions in the world by The Wall Street Journal. It was the winner of the Intel Schools of Distinction Star Innovator Award and has been profiled by NBC-TV's Dateline, CNN's Science and Technology News, USA Today, New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. IMSA has served as a revolutionary education institution for over 30 years for its residential Academy students and for thousands of Illinois teachers and students across the state annually through curricula development and teacher training.

To learn more about innovation at IMSA, visit imsa.edu.   

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