High School 'DO-ERS' Visit Campus

The following article appeared in the August 18, 1994, issue of University Week. Reprinted with permission.

A group of high school students with disabilities are just about to end a two week stay on the UW campus learning the significance of two short words.

They might be the two most important words of their lives: do it.

That's DO-IT, for the UW College of Engineering's Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology program, now in its second year. Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, the program exists for one reason: to encourage high school students with disabilities to pursue careers in science, engineering or math.

Eighteen new DO-IT participants got an introductory look at what makes careers in science, math and engineering exciting during their visit to campus, which ends tomorrow. They looked at what life's like for astronauts, what goes into designing scientific instruments and what's happening in deep-sea exploration.

They also learned how new computer and other technologies are making it easier for the disabled to attend college and live normal lives in general. And they had plenty of chances to interact with students and faculty with disabilities who already have faced many of the challenges they are encountering.

Fifteen DO-IT scholars who participated in the first summer residential program last year, joined this year's group for the second week. Nine of the first year students were on campus the first week, too, to help out with the newest group.

All 33 participants in the summer '94 DO-IT residential program come from Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington. Meals and housing are provided, as are sign language interpreters and other accommodations needed to facilitate a successful academic experience.

DO-IT is not just a summer program, explained its director, Sheryl Burgstahler, who also is an assistant director of computing and communications. "Year-round, DO-IT scholars use home computers and electronic mail to link up with each other and others around the world - mentors who hurdled similar obstacles before succeeding in their respective fields," she said.

If a student doesn't own a computer, he or she can borrow one from DO-IT, along with a modem and any other necessary equipment and software.