Engineering Your World: Students get jump start on engineering career path through program
Sarah Guckenburg had a class slot to fill on her schedule.
Wayne Cherry, who leads the Engineering Your World Program in conjunction with the University of Texas, thought she would be a perfect fit.
Guckenburg followed Cherry's lead, got into the program and now is interested in biomedical engineering.
"I really like using my hands and problem solving," Guckenburg said. "Trying to figure out how things work and sometimes making it up as you go. I realized that I like being active, I don't want to be at a desk, I want to be using my hands and always doing something."
The program is in its third year of offering Engineering 1 (Engineering Design and Analysis) and the second year of Engineering 2 (Engineering Applications of Computer Science).
Curriculum for the classes was developed by the University of Texas to "give students exposure to engineering" and to see if they have an interest and a feel of what engineers do.
"We're exposing kids to probably something they've never seen before," Cherry said. "But beyond the exposure to engineering, they are getting experience in problem-solving skills, working in groups, communicating their findings and analyzing data."
So, what do the students do through the courses?
In Engineering 1, students work on a Pinhole Camera (Discovering Design), Flashlight Redesign (Reverse Engineering), Calibrated Coffee (Understanding Data), Safe Buildings (Data-Driven Design), Electronic Music (Algorithms and Programming) and the final project of Aerial Imaging (Engineering Systems).
Then, in Engineering 2, students work on Electronic Music (Programming in Python), Custom Photo Filters (Exploring Images), Computer-Assisted Physical Therapy (Analyzing Video), Mechatronic Assistive Devices (Building and Coding), CameraControlled Wheelchair (System Design) and the final project of Water Rockets (Model Selection and Performance).
"I first was in Engineering 1 because I had an interest," senior Garrett Sutton, who will be attending St. Mary's in San Antonio to pursue a mechanical engineering degree, said. "Going into Engineering 2, it heightened my interest and it took off from there. I realized this is what I want to do.
"I have a lot of fun. Mr. Cherry helps by breaking that border between working hard and having fun at the same time. He's a really good teacher."
Of course, not everybody that takes the course goes on to become an engineer. But for the students that do follow that path, they believe it gives them a leg up walking into college as a freshman with their engineering basics under their belts.
And what Cherry enjoys the most is how different each of his classes are year-after-year.
"It's a lot of fun," Cherry said. "You get different kids every year, who have different ideas. I've done the same projects now for the third time, but the solutions are always unique."