UHS’s new engineering class: a head start on an engineering/STEM pathway

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UHS’s new engineering class: a head start on an engineering/STEM pathway
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An engineering textbook from the new class. (Danya Clein)

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Students rarely have the opportunity to take career-oriented classes in high school. However, UHS’s new Intro to Engineering Design class gives an opportunity for curious, motivated people to immerse themselves into an almost pre-professional STEM course. Intro to Engineering Design (IED), taught by Mr. Tinh Tran (Science Dept.), is part of Project Lead The Way®’s efforts to introduce an engineering curriculum at high school levels. The district decided to offer this class for students to get a head start on an engineering/STEM pathway for UHS and other IUSD high schools.

IED is open to students of all grades who are interested in design and engineering. The focus of the class is to expose students to the design process and allow them to delve into the creativity, research, analysis and teamwork skills required for the field. The units of study in the class include Design Process, Presentation Design and Delivery, Reverse Engineering and Engineering Ethics. Students do not need to have any previous knowledge about engineering except a background in college preparatory mathematics and science. Along with learning problem-solving and interpersonal skills, students will become familiar with a solid 3D modeling design software package to help them design solutions to engineering design issues. They also have opportunities to communicate their solutions to the professional community.

Students in the class are part of the UNInvenTeam, a group of student inventors working together to design and build technological solutions to real world problems. IED also gives students the skills to participate in local STEM-related competitions such as OC Maker Challenge, UCI Rescue Robotics, Performance Race Car Engineering and SMART Competition (green building design).

Justin Wang (Sr.), who was part of the UNInvenTeam last year, said, “I really enjoyed applying my knowledge of engineering on a unique project outside of school. I think this class is also a great way to explore the field of engineering.”

Tran believes that the class will help students develop and practice skills such as initiative, empathy and creativity, which will be helpful in the workforce.

“My goals for this class are to get UNI students building things that are meaningful to them and help improve other people’s lives,” said Tran. “In doing so, students develop career technical skills that prepares them for engineering majors in college or for work after high school.”

In order to prepare for the new class, Tran attended many workshops and trainings over summer. Both he and UHS administration have plans to create more classes for students to explore an engineering/STEM pathway in the future. These potential classes include Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Aerospace Engineering, Civil Engineering and Architecture and a senior year capstone course called Engineering Design and Development.

So far, IED has been well-received. There are thirty students currently enrolled in the class, and many more have expressed interest. These students appreciate the hands-on learning experience that this class offers.

Mahek Logantha (Jr.) decided to take the class as a way to start pursuing a career in the engineering field. She hopes to apply her knowledge from the class to creating and building new things in and outside of class.

“I hope to learn about how hardware and software work together and be able to build small things with the equipment we have in the class,” she said. “Since Day One, we have dived right into following the engineering process and trying to make things more efficient. It’s a one-of-a-kind setting.”

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