2200 of the region's top elementary, middle and high schoolers gathered in Hot Springs, Arkansas, March 14-16 to showcase the community-based projects they completed over the past year.  These exceptional students are all participating in a unique program, aimed at getting them out of the classroom and into real world problem-solving.  The Arkansas-based Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) Initiative provides exposure to current issues affecting local communities-- challenging students to identify projects, form teams, collaborate with fellow EAST members and civic organizations, construct action plans, execute strategies, document findings, and present results.

From the Opening Plenary welcome by President & CEO Matt Dozier, it quickly became apparent that EAST is different--  this is not your grandfather's educational program!  Everyone was treated to an impromptu (as far as we knew) flash mob, expertly executed by several schools from their seats in the first few rows of the Hot Springs Convention Center's Horner Hall auditorium.  Picture 200 students and facilitators doing the Dougie and you'll get an accurate mental picture.

This year's conference, termed 'Innovation Generation', encouraged students to consider the National Service Project theme of Energy Efficiency.  While community projects were by no means restricted to this objective, many included components of sustainability, a mission near and dear to Bentley.   One energy conservation project involved quantifying, in today's dollars, the annual savings realized by unplugging classroom electrical devices when not in use.  Measuring these kilowatt hours resulted in identifying significant opportunities to redirect funds to more beneficial uses.  Other projects ranged from publicizing the dangers of texting and driving to mapping a local cemetary's damaged headstones so as to provide specific documented locations for grieving visitors.  There were district-wide recycling initiatives, blood drives in observance of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 to recognize our service men and women, and many more.

A longtime partner of EAST, Bentley's involvement included a breakout session led by Ed Wright that highlighted www.bentley.com/studentserver, a MicroStation V8i course led by Greg Hamano of Archway Systems, and the MicroStation Student Competition.  This year's winning project, entitled 'Bentley MicroStation Energy Efficient Home', was submitted by a student team from Henderson Health Sciences Magnet Middle School, in Little Rock.  Team leader Dulce Yerena attended the conference and accepted the winning prize for herself and on behalf of team member Blanca Torres.  Each received a Student Academic Suite of Bentley software (a 2-year license of MicroStation and a dozen other solutions), and a $100 gift card to Best Buy.  Congratulations Dulce (pictured below) and Blanca!

Check back after the 2013 National Service Project theme is announced, for further details on the 2013 Bentley MicroStation Student Competition and submit your project for a chance to win software and prizes.  Did you know that there are MicroStation V8i tutorials and videos that are available right now on the EAST website?  For further information, just click on the link found here