2014 Woodie Flowers Award Winner Leads Students to Success
Lane Matheson, Director of the Tulsa Engineering Academy at Memorial High School and Mentor for FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 932 “Circuit Chargers” of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is the recipient of the 2014 Woodie Flowers Award, founded by Dr. William P. Murphy Jr. to recognize an outstanding engineer or teacher who best demonstrates teaching excellence in teaching science, math, and creative design.
Matheson has been a teacher for more than 15 years. She has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rice University and a Master’s of Arts in Secondary Education from the University of Tulsa. She was named the 2012 Tulsa Teacher of the Year and selected as a 2013 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year finalist. Matheson is a visionary leader and the first to bring engineering into K-12 education in Oklahoma. Her efforts have cultivated interest in students within and beyond the borders of Tulsa Public Schools to take accelerated math, science, and engineering classes.
Matheson worked in her dream job as a systems engineer on the International Space Station program for 10 years before leaving this profitable career to prepare students for the rigors of studying engineering. While developing her own high-school engineering curriculum, she chose to incorporate FIRST robotics programs, ultimately introducing a robotics class that students can take in Grades 10-12, where they improve their leadership, speaking, and power tool skills alike. In 2005, she created the Tulsa Engineering Academy at Memorial High School, an academic magnet program within Memorial High School.
“Lane brings a fresh, future-focused drive to her job, and I know her students can’t help but be inspired,” State Superintendent Janet Barresi said. “This award shows how lucky we are to have her in Oklahoma and how positive it is to have robotics programs in our schools.”
With the help of Matheson’s keen insight and instruction, her FRC team has earned many awards, including three Engineering Inspiration Awards, four Chairman’s awards, and nine UL Industrial Safety awards.
Matheson has recruited Coaches for 23 FIRST Robotics Competition, 10 FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), 36 FIRST LEGO League (FLL), and eight Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) teams. She teaches programming for all levels, helps the Coaches with funding, and deploys her students and their robots to recruit other kids for these rookie teams. Coaches know they can call her when they need advice or a robot part.
More than robots
Matheson’s teachings extend well beyond turning her students on to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She encourages them to “Embrace the Struggle! Celebrate the Success!” Matheson helps students overcome their fears and build their confidence in public speaking, creates opportunities for them to mentor other students, and is a champion for young women, developing the GLEE (Girls Love Exploring Engineering) camp and mentoring female team members.
According to her students, “Mrs. Matheson inspires us to inspire others through our words and actions. She is our teacher, Mentor, confidant, and second mom. Through personal relationships with each of us, she helps us make the right choices for the future no matter how difficult the choices may be.”