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Coconino High School engineering program changes minds


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  • Karin Eberhard/ Flagstaff Unified School District

Projects Students In The Engineering Program Are Working On. Photos Courtesy Of Flagstaff Unified School District

Coconino High School has two rigorous engineering programs that allow students to earn college credits.

One program taught by Mr. Craig Howdeshell is the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Engineering program which is a Career and Technical Education program. There are three classes in this program. In the Introduction to Engineering class the student’s dig deep into the engineering design process, applying math, science, and engineering standards to hands-on projects.

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Studentst in the engineering program at Flagstaff Unified. Photo courtesy Flagstaff Unified School District

Students will work both individually and in teams to design solutions to a variety of problems using 3D modeling soft- ware, and use an engineering notebook to document their work. Successful completion of a full year of this course will prepare students for the Principles of Engineering (POE) course.

This is a Dual Enrollment Class: Successful completion of a full year of this course, POE and the Aerospace Engineering (AE) courses will count toward college credits of drafting from Coconino Community College.

The second year course is the POE course, exposing students to some of the major concepts that they will encounter in a post-secondary engineering course of study. Students have an opportunity to investigate engineering and high tech careers.

POE gives students the opportunity to develop skills and understanding of course concepts through Activity, Project, and Problem-Based (APPB) learning. Used in combination with a teaming approach, APPB learning challenges students to continually hone their interpersonal skills, creative abilities, and problem-solving skills based upon engineer- ing concepts. It also allows students to develop strategies to enable and direct their own learning, which is the ultimate goal of education.

The third year course is AE and is the study of the engineering discipline, which develops new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and space exploration.

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A student shows a project she’s working on in the engineering program. Photo courtesy Flagstaff Unified School District

Another engineering program is within the Coconino Institute of Technology (CIT) and includes three courses.

The CIT engineering classes are project-based classes where students are given a problem (with criteria and constraints) and students use their science, math and engineering design process to create a solution.

Testing, redesigning, and communicating results will not only bring the student’s ideas to life, but also help them see how science theory matches reality.

Over the past few weeks the CIT Engineering II class students have been learning software engineering.  The teacher Mr. David Tessmer’s goals for the students is to teach them problem-solving skills.

The students started with circuit work, diagrams, processing and programing. Their current project is to use buttons, movement, interfacing and using loops, if then programming and variables to create games, scenes, or simulations. After creating their projects all students use and evaluate each other’s work.

According to student Tristan Steagall, who created a Galactic Pong Game, “In the class I learned how to program using an array.”

“This class helps me in the long run as I take the course to achieve my dream of becoming a mechanical engineer,” Steagall said. “Through the CIT program, I have learned not only the ways to program my pong game, but also do things like create ethanol powered rockets and the physics of a paper roller-coaster we created. Being one of my favorite classes, I want every day to come and learn the sciences and applications of the things we have learned that will help me rise to my full potential and help propel me to my dreams.”

His classmate Bailey Gobble originally wanted to be a teacher but is now very interested in engineering.

When Bailey started this latest project, she was very irritated but stated “Mr. Tessmer takes his time with the students to make sure that the students understand the concepts needed.”

“As soon as you understand the programming, it is easy and exciting,” Gobble said. “It is really exciting to see something you created actually work and function.”