Some of the country’s future engineers may be getting their start at Lenape High School this year.
The high school is debuting its first Project Lead the Way class. It is a pilot freshman year class called introduction to engineering design. The class is part a new program called the Pathway to Engineering.
Pathway to Engineering will eventually evolve into a full, four-year program at the high school. According to Mike Condurso, the instructor for this year’s pilot class, the goal is to have the students participate in hands-on engineering projects to better prepare them for college and future careers.
The selection process prior to September was selective. Students who wanted to participate had to fill out an application. A small group was selected from the applicants to participate in the pilot.
Condurso said the plan is to have the students learn about engineering progressively over a four-year period. The first course operates as an introduction where students will get their first taste of creating small projects.
“They’re using the engineering design process, which is similar to the scientific process,” Condurso said. “They’ll be keeping an engineering notebook.”
The students will participate in small group projects throughout the year. Condurso said the students will begin with small models and work their way up.
“It starts out kind of small,” he said. “They’ll be working on some technical drafting, visual things, 2D and 3D. Then they will design and create their own three-dimensional puzzle physically and virtually on a software program called Inventor.”
The class goes beyond learning the technical aspects of engineering. Students learn teamwork as they work together on these projects. In addition, Lenape students will also work with students from Seneca High School later in the year on a collaborative project. Seneca is also participating in the pilot class this year.
Teachers participating in the program had to become Project Lead the Way certified over the summer at Rowan University to instruct the class. Condurso said the plan going forward is to have teachers from the science and technology departments teach the different classes as the program expands.
“This course is being offered with the technology and science departments,” he said. “So it’s going to be taught over four years by teachers in all of those departments.”
The four-year program will culminate in the student’s senior year, where they will take part in s course similar to a college-level class.
“It’s modeled after a senior engineering experience at the college level,” Condurso said. “They will partner with a mentor in business and industry.”
Pathway to Engineering was launched thanks to a $31,200 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics grant from Lockheed Martin. The school district hopes to make Pathway to Engineering a full-fledged program in a few years.
One month into the school year, Condurso said the students have taken to the curriculum and are excited to move on to bigger projects later in the year.