Modern Heroes

Some cynics claim there are no modern heroes. But high school students participating in the UW's one-of-a-kind Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology (DO-IT) program, above, don't agree. To them Steven Hawking, right is a hero. Hawking, one of the early developers of the theory of black holes and author of the best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, spoke to the UW DO-IT students and students from Seattle University earlier this month through the aid of a voice synthesizer. He has Lou Gehrig's disease. Hawking holds the Lucasian Professorship at Cambridge University, which was once held by Sir Isaac Newton. DO-IT is a three-year pilot program providing computer and educational training in science, engineering and math to disabled students. High school students are admitted based on their grade point averages and interest in science, math and engineering. The UW College of Engineering program is directed by Sheryl Burgstahler, assistant director in the Office of Computing and Communications. Participants are blind, learning disabled, and hearing and health and mobility impaired. As part of the program, they are loaned home computers and taught to access Internet, e-mail and other information systems. The students will attend a 14-day program on campus Aug. 8-28, where they will attend classes given by college professors. DO-IT is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.