Engineering TV Show Wins Three Awards

IEEE is one of several organizations providing funds for Design Squad

8 July 2008

“Design Squad,” a reality show that features teams of high school students competing in engineering design challenges, has received a 2007 Peabody Award, a Daytime Emmy Award, and the 2008 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers. IEEE is one of several organizations providing funds for the series, which airs on PBS.

The Peabody Awards recognize “the best in electronic media” and are awarded annually by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, in Athens. Now in its second season, “Design Squad” was one of 35 radio, cable, and broadcast TV programs to receive awards, presented on 16 June. Other recipients were “The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central’s cable-news satire; the Discovery Channel’s “Planet Earth,” a series about the world’s natural wonders; and “Project Runway,” the Bravo channel’s fashion designer competition.

In June, Design Squad! director and senior producer Dorothy Dickie received a Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Directing in a Children's Series." The show received three additional Daytime Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Children's Series, Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Photography (Film or Electronic) and Outstanding Achievement in Multiple Camera Editing.

Design Squad producers also accepted the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, considered to be one of the highest honors in electronic media, on 16 June. The Peabody Board noted “Design Squad is a true delight – educational television in the best sense of the term. This series, directed at viewers ages 12 to 17, works because it recognizes and appreciates the intelligence of its intended audience.”

The program also received a 2008 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers for the “Design Squad Educator's Guide,” which provides educators with tools to bring engineering alive in their after-school programs.

Produced by WGBH Boston in partnership with the sponsors of U.S. National Engineers Week, “Design Squad” uses the formula of reality television to introduce children and families to the engineering design process [see “Engineering Education Gets Its Own Reality Show,” The Institute, January 2007].

The show follows the progress of two teams of high school students as they design, build, and test fun yet practical machines. The second season has the students building utilitarian furniture made of cardboard, prostheses that can be used underwater, and aquatic robots.

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