Brewer High School engineering teacher Tommy Bowers is National Instruments 2017 National STEM Teacher of the Year. He is the first high school teacher to receive the award from the company.
Bowers was selected to serve on the National Instruments academic forum panel, previously only comprised of engineers and professors from various colleges throughout the United States.
He spent most of the last three summers at Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas at Tyler taking advanced professional development courses and performing research projects for the universities.
Bowers has also participated in several research projects with A&M, the university that was instrumental in nominating him for the national award. He completed 355 hours of training this past summer alone.
“I want to learn how to be a better teacher so I seek research projects that I may utilize in my classroom,” he said.
When Bowers began teaching at Brewer five years ago, the school had minimal STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) programs.
“We are right at the back door of Lockheed Martin, and our kids didn't have any opportunities to participate in internships,” he said. “We didn’t have any criteria or curriculum to prepare our students for an engineering background.”
Four years ago, White Settlement ISD hired Career and Technology Director Jeff Seeton to enhance the district's CTE program. The next year, the district added Project Lead the Way, a rigorous engineering program sponsored by Lockheed Martin.
Bowers now teaches Introduction to Engineering Design, Digital Electronics, Aerospace Engineering, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems as part of Project Lead the Way.
Bowers said, “We continue to keep adding new programs, and we now have 152 students participating in engineering courses.”
WSISD has plans to add the Capstone program next year. The Engineering Design and Development program enables students to apply the knowledge and skills of previous Project Lead the Way courses to identify an issue in the local community and then research, design, and test a solution, ultimately presenting their solution to a panel of professional engineers.
Bowers brings more than 30 years of professional experience to the classroom including Federal Express Airlines, Delta Airlines, the US Navy, and Lockheed Martin.
National Instruments creates software that’s heavily used in engineering and the STEM fields by airlines, universities, research firms, and exploratory and development software companies.
Aerospace engineering students pictured with Bowers are: Grant Baldwin, Caden Brunson, Joel Burns, James, Coffman, Demicio Curb, Tony DeLeon, Logan Kacsir, Maverick Forbes, Ramiro Gonzalez, Josiah Harris, Brandon Huerta, Robert Martinez, Devon May, Nick Murugesan, Erik Palomo, Christian Pavia, Lesley Perry, Carlitos Robertson, Ashton Washington and Riley Waters.