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ECE, Dr. Pattichis Honored by Santa Fe School Board

April 20, 2010

The Board of Education of Santa Fe Public Schools awarded ECE its Silver Zia Award this month, thanks to efforts by Associate Professor Marios Pattichis and Department Chair Dr. Chaouki Abdallah

Professors Abdallah and Pattichis accepted the award from board Vice President Mary Ellen Gonzales during the district's April 6 board meeting. 

“Today, public education is expected to do so much and is so underfunded,” Gonzales said, “that we depend on every segment of our society. The ECE Department has accepted the responsibility of being a critical component of the village that is raising our students in Santa Fe. The Silver Zia Award is a way of recognizing that, honoring that, and saying 'Thank you.' ” 
The board's Silver Zia Award honors community members and organizations who significantly add to the district's efforts to meet the varied needs of its students. Over the years, the award has gone to social service organizations, medical organizations, art organizations, and others. Each year, every board member is authorized to give an award, although not all board members extend one every year. 

The award was based partly "on all you have done for our Project Lead the Way pre-engineering students," said Deputy Superintendent Dr. Melville Morgan in an April 5 e-mail to professors Abdallah and Pattichis. SFPS has a pre-engineering program based on the national Project Lead the Way organization, which helps develop engineering and biomedical curricula. 

ECE and Santa Fe Public Schools launched their partnership in 2007. ECE pledged to help the district meet the academic needs of its students, including helping to prepare and motivate them to pursue college degrees, to understand and apply for scholarships, and to understand college admissions requirements. 

The first initiative undertaken by the department and the district was to bring approximately 100 high school seniors from throughout the SFPS district to UNM's School of Engineering for a comprehensive tour of its many research facilities. The school's Engineering Student Services Director Steven Peralta and his team, as well as staff and faculty at the other four departments in the school, also helped to make this event a success. 

Another initiative by Dr. Pattichis in August 2009 involved helping fourth-  through sixth-grade teachers at Santa Fe's Larragoite Elementary School through a learning session on electronics. Beforehand, Pattichis developed a training session suitable for elementary-school students that would nevertheless clarify for them some fairly complex concepts related to current, voltage, electrical power and circuits. He also provided the elementary school with electronic circuit kits that are currently being used to teach electronics to fourth-  through sixth-grade students at Larragoite. 

Larragoite Elementary is a STEM magnet school within the SFPS district that combines rigorous instruction in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with a focus on real-world problem solving centered on themes of community, caring and wellness. Pattichis' efforts in the 2009 training session were among those cited by the board vice president on April 6 when she presented the award. 

Professors Greg Heileman and Abdallah are also working with Santa Fe High School to develop courses, such as programming course work, that will make it easier for its students to transfer to UNM. 

The SFPS board's Silver Zia Award is an engraved Nambe plate that the department will display proudly in its building.