Fastlane

March 31, 2011

Making Math Matter

A World In Motion (AWIM) is a program sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), that is designed to get young students more interested in math and science. Bob Ferer program engineering manager for GM current full-size trucks is recognized as one of the top advocates of this program.

Bob is from a GM family. His dad and uncle worked for the company. He thought about being a teacher at one time, but decided to put his energy into automotive engineering. Bob got his Bachelor of Science degree from Lawrence Tech University and his Master of Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, but he never stopped thinking of teaching. He says, “I come home from work and I tell my daughters I learned something today.” He wanted elementary and middle school students to feel the same way, so seven years ago he got involved with AWIM to encourage the kids to pursue math and science.

Bob w students

Bob and his students getting ready for final exam races

Bob sees a difference between traditional classroom presentations and what AWIM offers. AWIM helps students “understand why we learn these things and relate it to the real world.” This year his class at Sashabaw Middle School in Clarkston, Michigan built gravity cruisers and the final “exam” had the student teams facing off in races for both speed and distance.  He says the engineering in the students’ cruisers is different from the pickups he works on, but the concepts are the same. You can see more about the gravity cruisers by clicking through to the video at the bottom of this page.

Bob has recruited other GM employees to become AWIM instructors and today GM workers aroundBob talking the country are working with local schools to help encourage math and science education. He has worked so diligently that this year he won the Bill Agnew Volunteer of the Year award for the SAE “A World in Motion” program. He says, “I was honored to be nominated and that they decided to pick me.” The recognition has prompted Bob to increase his efforts to get other professionals involved in AWIM. He’s even trying to recruit retirees to pitch in.

Bob also wants to see more girls involved in AWIM next year. In 2010 his class was evenly divided, but this year it was all boys. He encourages the girls to participate. “Girls are always welcome. I work for the Global Vehicle Chief Engineer for Full-Size Trucks, who is a woman engineer, and who has been recognized for her accomplishments throughout her career,” he says.

If you want to know more about AWIM for your school or to volunteer to help, log on to www.AWIM.org and check out the materials available there. Bob Ferer appreciates your interest.

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