University of Washington program aims at talented high schoolers' do-abilities

Microcomputer Technology for People With Special Needs
April/May, 1995

In August, a group of high school students with disabilities from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, and Montana will spend time at the University of Washington Seattle campus learning the significance of two short words.

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

That's DO-IT, for the University of Washington College of Engineering and Computing & Communication's Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology program, now in its third year. Funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, the DO-IT Scholars Program exists for one reason: to encourage high school students with disabilities to pursue careers in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology.

The DO-IT Scholars Program provides opportunities for high school students who have disabilities, a desire to go to college, and an interest and aptitude in science, engineering, or mathematics to explore their interests to the fullest. In August, new DO-IT Scholars will get an introductory look at what makes careers in science, engineering, and mathematics exciting. They'll find out, for example, what life's like for astronauts, what goes into engineering traffic information systems, and what's happening in earthquake tracking research. Meals and housing are provided, as are sign language interpreters and other accommodations needed to facilitate a successful academic experience. Computers are a main component of that plan.

DO-IT is not just a summer program, explains its director, Sheryl Burgstahler. "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 says. Friendships developed over the course of the program continue despite the distance from one correspondent to another; the participants from Oregon can "talk" to their friends in Washington as easily as they can communicate with a mentor in Scotland.

If a DO-IT Scholar 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.

The DO-IT Scholars Program is currently accepting applications for the 1995 program. For application information, please contact 
4545 15th Ave. N.E.
JE-25/Room 206
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 685-DOIT (685-3648) (V/TTY)