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The University of Texas at Dallas, P.O. Box 830688, Richardson, Texas 75083-0688

News Release


News contact: Jenni Huffenberger, UTD, (972) 883-4431, jennib@utdallas.edu

U. T. Dallas' Creative Problem Solving Teams
Take Two Firsts, Two Seconds In Global Competition

Two UTD Scholarships Awarded At Conclusion Of Competition

RICHARDSON, Texas (May 29, 2003) - The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) took two first place honors and two second place honors last weekend at the academically driven Destination ImagiNation Global Finals competition in Knoxville, Tenn. It was the university's third year in a row to finish with high marks in the international tournament.

At the conclusion of the event UTD awarded two full scholarships - including tuition, fees and a housing stipend - to high school senior Gemma Smith of Weatherford, the Texas winner, and junior Bill Anderson of Corvallis, Ore., the national winner, for their outstanding achievements in academics and in Creative Problem Solving (CPS).

UTD fielded four CPS teams at this year's five-category event, which was held May 21-24 on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is designed to teach students how to work together to solve complex problems in team environments and how to recognize that there can be multiple solutions to a problem.

More than 800 teams (elementary though university level), made up of more than 8,000 students from 47 states and 15 countries, competed in the tournament and could choose from among five categories - A Change in Direction, ConnecDId!, Once Improv a Time, THEATER smARTS and viDIo Adventure.

UTD's teams were made up of a total of 21 students, 11 of whom were novice competitors this year. In addition to preparing for their own events, the students spent many hours working with elementary and secondary teams from schools in the Dallas area. The UTD students also hosted nearly 50 teams at two separate workshops in January and volunteered as scorekeepers and appraisers at regional competitions.

UTD, which does not field a football team but has a nationally ranked chess team and excels at "mind games," recorded second-place finishes in both the 2001and 2002 Destination ImagiNation events.

The two UTD teams finishing in first place this year competed in the "THEATER smARTS" and "viDIo Adventure" categories. The former category involved creating a live theater production that included disruptions, mishaps and interventions, and the later category called on students to create a live 3-D video game adventure with different levels and rewards.

The UTD teams finishing in second place competed in the "ConnecDId" and "A Change in Direction" categories. The first challenge involved teams imagining how the world would be different if students constructed a "Universal Connection Creation" that would allow instant connections between people, nations, objects or events. The second challenge concerned system integration - creating an original technical device that could be rebuilt into a second device that performed different functions than the first.

"Although UTD has sponsored a CPS team since 1997, each year new team members offer a unique view about how to work together to get a job done," said Lana Sooter, team manager and assistant to the dean of undergraduate education at UTD. "Our 2003 teams worked diligently to prepare for this year's global finals, and I'm proud of their effort and representation of UTD."

Other colleges and universities that fielded teams were Vanderbilt University, Texas A&M University at Commerce, Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. and the University of Illinois. The four UTD teams had been preparing for the tournament since last fall.

UTD's 2003 teams included seniors Judy Cook of Allen, Evan Fort of Houston, Kurtis Johnson of Carrollton and Walter Voit of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; juniors Nicholas Cowling of Greenville, Kassandra McLean of Houston, Morgan Feeney of Racine, Wis., Vikram Patel of Richardson, Jared Granberry of Houston, Richard Voit of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Sophie Rutenbar of Richardson, Benjamin Weittenhiller of Big Horn, Wyo., Robert Janecka of Victoria and Lesley Wilsker of Beaumont; and sophomores Benjamin Lotzer of Dallas, Megan Malone of Garland, Andrea Buchanan of McKinney, William Miller of Allen, Jaspreet Sidhu of Plano, Michael Seeligson of Dallas and Amelia Yen of Plano.

The high school students winning UTD scholarships have been active in creative problem solving for many years, and both teens advanced to this year's Global Finals. Anderson, who is an Eagle Scout and participates in athletics, hopes to qualify for UTD's cross country team when he enrolls in fall 2004. Smith will join UTD for the fall 2003 semester.

About UTD
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 13,000 students. The school's freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university's Web site at http://www.utdallas.edu.


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