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Wyllie hopes to inspire by leading STEAM into Appalachian classrooms

By Sarah Slavik

September 8, 2006

Jim WyllieATHENS, Ohio — Jim Wyllie, 23, of Novelty, Ohio has impressive credentials. He graduated from Ohio University in the top two in his class, with a Grade Point Average of 3.9. Throughout his undergraduate career, he has received innumerable scholarships and honors for his hard work in the classroom, including Outstanding Student in Computer Sciences – twice. But perhaps what is most impressive about Wyllie is his desire to use his abilities to help others. Wyllie’s thesis advisor, Dr. Shawn Ostermann, Department Chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, describes Wyllie as an exceptional student who loves to learn and who brings an infectious amount of enthusiasm to any project he participates in. Wyllie’s interest in learning and helping others learn has lead him to volunteer countless hours of his time helping fellow classmates with their work. His helping spirit has even lead professors to seek his assistance in courses for which he was not enrolled and directing the future of course development.

Second  LifeAs a five year member of the Athens community, giving back is what drew Wyllie to STEAM. STEAM offers Wyllie the chance to do something new and different from what he’s done before. He says, “I’ve been involved in programming projects that haven’t been rewarding. In the past I’ve designed web pages and stuff, but I felt like I got lost in the business. One of the reasons I decided to join in the project is because it seems much more rewarding than other things I’ve been involved in. I would love to give back to the area and encourage intelligent young students to reach their potential.”

Not only does he posses the desire to help, but Wyllie also has the ability to help. He boasts of extensive experience in group work and programming – two very important skills for the team working on the STEAM project. For example, throughout his post-secondary career, Wyllie completed a co-op at Electronic Vision and a year’s managerial experience at The Post (both in Athens), in addition to numerous freelance projects for a number of different employers. Examples of his work on the website, as well as ForceIT!, a game built to reinforce 8th grade physics concepts, can be seen here.

The PostWyllie recognizes that the combination of his assets – group work experience, programming experience and graduate work – place him in a unique position to take on the role as a leader within the project. “I’ve done a whole lot of group work in programming, so I’m going to take more of a leadership rather than following role in getting everyone on the same page in to how to program effectively as a group and bring what I’ve learned to the project.”

While he shies away from the official title of role model, Wyllie embraces the potential he has to impact the lives of many children through his involvement with STEAM. “I want them to see that hasn’t been that long since I was their age, so I want them to be able to relate to my achievements. I want them to know that higher education is a possibility for them, that they can do what I’m doing right now if they want. I hope I can be inspirational in that way.”