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Jenni Bullington, UTD, (972) 883-4431, jennib@utdallas.edu

U.T. Dallas' Creative Problem Solving Teams Finish Second in Global Tournament


        RICHARDSON, Texas (May 28, 2002) - Once again proving that not all Texas universities need football to gain recognition for their competitive abilities, The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) took second-place honors last weekend at the academically driven Destination ImagiNation Global Finals competition in Knoxville, Tenn.

        UTD fielded two Creative Problem Solving (CPS) teams in the international competition, which is designed to teach students how to work together to solve complex problems in team environments and to recognize that there can be multiple ways to solve a problem. Both teams finished second in their respective categories.

        UTD, which does not field a football team, has nationally ranked chess and debate teams, and one of its CPS teams finished second in last year's Destination ImagiNation event.

        More than 800 teams (elementary though university level), made up of more than 8,000 students from 47 states and 11 countries, competed in this year's tournament, which was held May 22-25 on the campus of The University of Tennessee. All teams could choose from among five categories with such improbable names as StranDID, On Holiday, It's Your Move, Art of Improv and Dual DI-lemma.

        For the global finals, the teams chose one challenge/category and spent several weeks or months perfecting their solution.

        One UTD team competed in the "It's Your Move" category, which involved creating an organized game and a vehicle that served as a game piece. According to Lana Sooter, team manager and assistant to the dean of undergraduate education at UTD, the problem was one of the more complicated at the competition.

        The other UTD team competed in the "Art of Improv" category, which required research in various areas, including art objects and exploration. For this problem, students were randomly presented with a subject they had researched and given 30 minutes to create a skit to convey the topic. Notably, UTD's "Art of Improv" team was made up entirely of freshmen, over half of whom had never competed in a CPS competition, much less against veteran teams.

        "Although the university 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," Sooter said. "Our 2002 teams worked diligently to prepare for this year's global finals, and I'm proud of their effort and representation of UTD."

        UTD's dean of undergraduate education, Dr. Michael Coleman, added, "UTD loves to compete in both cerebral and athletic competitions against some of the best the collegiate world has to offer. The university's success in mind games like chess, debate and creative problem solving is a symbol of UTD's emphasis on academic excellence and intellectual rigor."

        UTD's two teams were made up of seven students each. Among the other colleges and universities that fielded teams were Clemson University, Texas A&M University, Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., Central Michigan University, Wilmington College in Ohio, the University of Delaware and Eastfield Community College in Mesquite. The two UTD teams had been preparing for the tournament since last fall. Last month, they finished first in two categories in Texas' statewide CPS competition in Houston.

        UTD's 2002 teams include freshmen Arron Brown of Fort Worth, Jessica Cassidy of Corpus Christi, Nicholas Cowling of Greenville, Jared Granberry of Alvin, Ben Lotzer of Dallas, Walter Voit of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and Lesley Wilsker of Beaumont, sophomore Matt Maggard of Plano, junior Evan Fort of Houston, seniors Damon Armstrong and T.K. Armstrong of Carrollton, Judy Cook of Allen and Ted Skinner of Duncanville, and graduate student Veerdhawal Pande of India.

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 7,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate 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 www.utdallas.edu.


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