RALEIGH, March 16, 2015 – The Goodnight Scholars Program at NC State University announced the sponsorship of “The Goodnight Scholars Program Presents: Fredi Lajvardi.” The nationally-recognized Lajvardi is a 2005 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) National Outstanding Educator award winner; Phoenix high school teacher; and inspiration for the 2015 major motion picture “Spare Parts” starring George Lopez and Marisa Tomei.

The event will take place on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. in the Talley Student Union Mountains-Piedmont Ballroom on NC State’s Main Campus. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. The event will be free and open to the public.

“We are delighted to welcome Fred Lajvardi to campus for our inaugural Goodnight Scholars Program speaker series,” said Allison Medlin, director of the Goodnight Scholars Program. “As an award-winning STEM educator, Fred truly embodies the spirit and mission of our program. His story will inspire and challenge our scholars to consider how they can support the next generation of STEM students.”

For “The Goodnight Scholars Program Presents,” Lajvardi will engage the NC State community with his presentation “Improbable to Unstoppable:” a 45-minute, first-hand account of Lajvardi and his students’ incredible journey that brought national attention to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States.

Lajvardi will use his endearing wit and passion to connect with audience members while divulging the secrets to his national champion robotics team’s success. By the time Lajvardi completes retelling his unthinkable tale, it will be clear how his ageless wisdom, inventiveness, and determination took a group of disadvantaged Hispanic teenagers and developed them into an unstoppable force in the national robotics arena. “Improbable to Unstoppable” promises to inspire and invigorate all within ear shot of Lajvardi’s powerful words.

After the presentation, Lajvardi will engage the audience in a candid Q&A session.

About Fredi Lajvardi

Fredi Lajvardi began his career as a high school science teacher in 1988 in the Phoenix Union High School district in Arizona. He excelled right from the start, and showed the ability to engage and motivate his students, and challenged them by teaching them about the field of robotics. It soon landed them in national spotlight. After taking their designs to a national underwater robotics competition in 2004, and choosing to compete on the university level as opposed to the high school level, the Carl Hayden Community High School team beat out the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a number of other major universities.

They placed first, second and third in subsequent years, but bested MIT each year. Their story was first picked up by Wired magazine, and then by other major news organizations. Their story was first picked up by Joshua Davis with Wired magazine, who went on to document the story in his book, “Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream.”

Their story is currently capturing the hearts of the nation through the critically acclaimed documentary “Underwater Dreams,” as well as the major motion picture, “Spare Parts” with actor and comedian George Lopez starring as Lajvardi. “Spare Parts” released on January 16, 2015.

Lajvardi has received numerous awards for his ability as a teacher, including the IEEE National Outstanding Educator for 2005, the Arizona Department of Education Leadership Award for 2006, and the City of Phoenix Outstanding Teacher of the Year each year from 2005 through 2009.

About the Goodnight Scholars Program

The Goodnight Scholars Program was established in 2008 out of the philanthropic generosity from North Carolina natives and NC State alumni Dr. Jim Goodnight, co-founder of global business analytic software leader, SAS Institute, and Mrs. Ann Goodnight, director of community relations at SAS Institute and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The Goodnight Scholars Program is targeted at North Carolina residents from middle-income families who aspire to study in a science, technology, education, mathematics (STEM) or STEM-related education discipline at NC State. Students accepted into the program receive an annual scholarship valued at $17,500 per year for up to four years ($70,000 total).

Since its humble beginnings, the Goodnight Scholars Program has evolved into a comprehensive student development program focused on cultivating professional and personal skills for 200 current Goodnight Scholars through a series of programming initiatives. Goodnight Scholars receive insight and support from local and national STEM industry leaders and entrepreneurs; participate in professional development workshops; and engage in local, national, and international outreach efforts including STEM education outreach to Triangle elementary schools and service trips to New Orleans, Louisiana and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Per the program’s website, each programming initiative sponsored by the Goodnight Scholars Program strives to “…develop critical skills and habits necessary for academic achievement; expose and educate students to current trends and advancement in the STEM and education industries; and establish strong personal and/or professional relationships with fellow Goodnight Scholars, NC State faculty/staff, NC State alumni, and STEM/education professionals.”

In January 2015, the Goodnight Scholars Program announced the hiring of its first full-time director, Allison Medlin, who previously worked as an assistant and associate director with NC State’s University Scholars Program for 11 years.

You can learn more about the Goodnight Scholars Program by visiting http://goodnight.ncsu.edu or through Facebook.com/GoodnightScholars.


Media Contact: Jason Perry (jdperry3@ncsu.edu), Goodnight Scholars Program coordinator.