USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog

Shout out to Montgomery College online for the article on Nifty Fifty Speaker Susan Bontems. Thanks for helping get the word out about the USA Science and Engineering Festival.

i-8bd3502c56dcebfd0bea03d4e5dffdc1-Susan-Bontems-Class-04.jpgThe USA Science and Engineering Festival selected Montgomery College Professor Susan Bontems and 49 other scientists to visit Washington, D.C.-area middle and high schools, October 10-24, 2010, to ignite a passion for science and engineering in students. Professor Bontems was named the 2009 Maryland Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

The Nifty Fifty, as the scientists are called, were carefully chosen from hundreds of applicants for their differing fields, talents, divergent backgrounds and ages, and ability to convey the importance of science to our nation’s future. Professor Bontems is the only on representing community colleges. The hope is that meeting scientists and engineers who love their profession will help students embrace these disciplines and consider pursuing careers in them.

i-b0758a5c552a7165f1dc22b21d225391-Susan Bontems Class 21.jpgProfessor Bontems worked in the chemical industry for nine years before joining Montgomery College as an adjunct professor, teaching organic chemistry in the evening. She became a full-time professor in 2002.

Since then, she has been bringing everything she has to offer to her work. She encouraged the College’s Germantown Campus Chemistry Department to offer honors courses and worked with a colleague to develop and run a seminar-style honors module for organic chemistry. She also co-authored laboratory manuals for organic labs to improve student understanding and safety.

“I am passionate about my teaching and about my colleagues and Montgomery College,” says Susan proudly. “We truly do change lives here in a very real and very positive way.”

Professor Bontems’ Nifty Fifty talk is called “Playing with Polymers” and will explore their uses and some of their fascinating properties, including a look at what when they are frozen in liquid nitrogen.

Supported by festival host Lockheed Martin and sponsor Life Technologies, the Nifty Fifty scientists and engineers, include high tech entrepreneurs and financiers, policy makers, actors, journalists, educators, researchers, video game developers, spies, alien hunters, astronauts and surgeons.

The Nifty Fifty Scientists were selected from entries submitted by more than 100 professional science and engineering societies, 100 universities and colleges, 50 federal agencies and laboratories, 75 informal science outreach organizations including the Smithsonian Museums, the United States Botanic Gardens and the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academies; and more than 25 corporations.

The first USA Science & Engineering Festival from October 10-24, 2010 creates a new model for celebrating science in the nation’s capital. Two weeks of science events across VA, MD and D.C. include 50 of the area’s top scientists visiting local middle and high schools, brown bag lunches for high school students with Nobel Laureates, science open houses, events such as the science of wine and chocolate, a Kavli Science Video Contest, a You CAN Do the Rubik’s Cube contest, and a Sustainable Dreamhouse contest. A two-day Science Expo on the National Mall will feature more than 500 science and engineering organizations, and most of science’s best and brightest. Visit us at for more information.


  1. #1 Eric
    July 8, 2010

    Professor Bontems was literally the first professor I had, when I decided to go to college (not return, I’ll note) after washing out of the telecom industry back in 2003. She’s directly responsible for the path I’m on today and I’m hard pressed to think of a more deserving person for this honor.

  2. #2 Top Online Universities
    July 22, 2010

    The Nifty Fifty, as the scientists are called, were carefully chosen from hundreds of applicants for their differing fields, talents, divergent backgrounds and ages, and ability to convey the importance of science to our nation’s future.

  3. #3 Community colleges USA
    September 14, 2010

    Wish the festival stop by CA also, love to see the science of wine and chocolate it sounds so interesting and delicious 🙂

  4. #4 Hesi exam
    September 16, 2010

    Spreading it over year helps you take help for subjects that you are not confident about. Cramming it into the last two months is risky since it does not account for any uncertainties.

  5. #5 general chemistry
    October 21, 2010

    nice to hear about profs that still care about their kids.

  6. #6 Larry
    August 4, 2011

    Prof Bontems, or bonnie heh, mentored me during my thesis. Great person, one that I’m glad is part of this wonderful project!

  7. #7 Kandy Collins
    August 4, 2011

    Thanks for writing in.

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