The news is full of stories about the skill gap that challenges American companies to find trained employees to fill openings in the workforce. In Ohio alone, hundreds of engineering, computer science, and manufacturing jobs go unfilled. To communicate the importance of this skill set, Grant Career Center created new classes for freshman and sophomore students at Bethel-Tate and New Richmond High Schools.
This fall, 43 students started on a career awareness journey in the Engineering Concepts and Math Applications course to discover what engineering careers really look like and how to build the foundation for a successful future. The students all agree that the hands-on design and building coursework have reinforced design principles and reiterated the importance of mathematic skills in the industry. Ian Kimmerly, a tenth grade student at Bethel-Tate said, “I hoped to gain the basics of a wide variety of engineering careers and what engineers do. I look forward to attending this class! I love math and it is exactly the kind of class I have always wanted to take!”
The students have completed a variety of projects during the first quarter and have gained many skills. The students have built generators, designed and built balloon cars, created a windmill and generated an electric power source. Students mentioned cranes, trebuchets, and building and sinking boats as a favorite projects. They discussed the importance of keeping an accurate notebook with drawings, views, and mathematical equations. Zach Neeley, a New Richmond ninth grader, backs up that thought, “One good experience I have had is learning how to properly design and graph something in a notebook.”
Levi Antoni, a ninth grader from New Richmond, said he took the class because he has always liked to build things and take them apart to see the way it worked. “One good experience I have had in the Engineering Concepts and Math Applications class was the boat building project. We had to come up with designs, research the methods, pick the best one, and create it.”
New Richmond instructor, Genna Schwartz, feels that the class is teaching students far more important skills than what can be found in a textbook. “The best thing that the students have learned in this class is to never give up and keep improving and questioning their projects. If it fails, they don’t give up. If it works, they strive to make it better.”
As each project is introduced in class, the students brainstorm ideas where no one can ever criticize anyone’s ideas. They research the ideas to see what method will work the best and eliminate ideas according to the research data. Each team selects an idea and begins the build. Improvements and alterations happen along the way to the final product. New Richmond ninth grader, Joshua Clancy, has enjoyed all the projects in the class. “I thoroughly enjoyed almost everything we have done in this class. It is a unique and fun course that challenges your creativity and imagination.”
Marty Patrick, the instructor of the Bethel-Tate program, feels that his class provides students who are interested in careers in engineering the fundamental skills that they need to be successful in this career path. “The students understand the importance of an engineer’s notebook, the views and sketches of the process and the mathematical calculations that make it possible. Most of our projects are team-based and they learn to respect everyone’s ideas, take the initiative and work as a team to reach a common goal. All of these skills are vital in the industry.”
The instructors and students are all extremely pleased with the great results of this class and are looking forward to expanding the curriculum next year and allowing the students to explore even deeper into the engineering career pathways.