Butler Tech Instructor Selected for Lemelson-MIT Excite Award

Butler Tech instructor Tom Newman has been selected for a Lemelson-MIT Excite Award. The award is given annually to a select group of educators who have applied to receive a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant for the following school year and have been selected as a potential finalist. As an award recipient, Newman will travel to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in June to participate in invention education learning opportunities at the Lemelson-MIT Program’s annual EurekaFest.

Butler Tech instructor Tom Newman

Tom Newman

Five of Newman’s junior Information Technology students at Butler Tech – Payton Campellone, Dakota Carter, Samuel Surles, Lalito Lopez, and Jacob Handermann – decided to pursue the grant opportunity with Mr. Newman. They initiated the InvenTeam application process in spring of 2017 and will be invited to submit a final application in September. They are hoping to apply the $10,000 grant toward development of a sustainable energy solution based on the theories of Nikolai Tesla. Newman and the students will work with community members with expertise in related fields for insight and guidance on their invention and how it could best serve the community.


“My interest in working with students on invention projects is to guide them through real-world experiences with the understanding that ‘no’ is only a request for more information,” said Mr. Newman. “High school students have typically been trained to follow rules, complete procedures and never color outside the lines. Within my classroom, students are treated as adults, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to careers in a technological world.”

Butler Tech information technology students

Educators are selected for this award based on their capacity to lead a year-long, open-ended invention project with students at their school. At EurekaFest, Excite Award recipients meet and are inspired by current InvenTeams, teams of high school students, teachers and mentors that received grants of up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Newman will see the InvenTeam projects, learn more about the InvenTeam experience and attend hands-on workshops and discussions led by MIT professors about invention – unique technological solutions to real world problems.

“Excite Award educators who attend EurekaFest leave the event prepared to ignite an interest among high school students in science, math, engineering and invention,” said Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer from the Lemelson-MIT Program. “They gain new techniques to empower their students through problem solving and encourage a sustainable culture of invention in their school and community.”

A panel of judges composed of educators, researchers, staff and alumni from MIT, as well as past Lemelson-MIT award winners, will assemble in the fall and select the final InvenTeam grantees.