UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a highly touted and rigorous program for gifted high school students, graduated its 3,000th student at the 2009 spring commencement.
This year's 144 TAMS graduates plan to pursue degrees ranging from biology and chemical engineering to public health and physics and will be heading to Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas-Austin, Rice and UNT, among many others.
"I think this may be the most successful class in the 22-year history of the academy," says Richard Sinclair, dean of TAMS. "TAMS is reaching the potential dreamed about by the originators of the program."
TAMS began in 1987 as a way to help Texas' brightest teenagers get a head start on careers as physicians, engineers and science researchers. Students enroll at UNT following their sophomore year of high school, take college courses and can complete their freshman and sophomore years of college while earning their high school diplomas.
For two years, they live on campus, conduct research with professors and work in university laboratories.
When it opened, TAMS was the first program of its kind in the United States. Since then, similar programs have popped up in Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri.
The academy's success has been unequivocal.
The National Science Foundation reports that only 5 percent of U.S. bachelor's degrees are in engineering and only 12 percent are in mathematics and physics, life, environmental and computer sciences. At TAMS, however, more than 80 percent of the 2009 graduating class has declared a major in one of these fields.
Among the accomplishments of this year's graduating class are:
- Four Goldwater scholars, the most any university can have and more than any Texas university
- The first-place winner of the 2009 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology and 14 semifinalists.
- Eight semifinalists and one finalist in the 2009 Intel Science Talent Search.
- A U.S. Presidential Scholar.
- A Gates Millennium Scholar.
Sarah Bahari with UNT News Service can be reached at Sarah.firstname.lastname@example.org.