Mixing Career Learning Opportunities and Fun Traditions in Engineering

Cliff Greer is a PLTW teacher at Naples High School (NHS), which has been recognized as a PLTW Distinguished School for the past two years for its commitment to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in its PLTW programs. 

We set an academy record this past year with 16 graduates choosing to pursue a major in engineering when they head to college in the fall.

"Before becoming a student in the NHS Engineering Academy, I never considered engineering as an elective, let alone a career option,” said Zoey Cole, a rising senior. “However, after taking [Introduction to Engineering Design], my outlook on my education transformed. Instead of learning without a purpose, my goal is now to become an engineer."

We’ve taken several steps to recruit students and inspire them to pursue engineering as a career. Our two major goals for the 2018-19 school year at the NHS Academy of Engineering were:

  1. Make engineering “fun” by continuing existing traditions, as well as creating new ones; and
  2. Increase work-based learning opportunities for students.

Fun Traditions for Engineering Students

Our engineering club is one of our best recruitment and retention tools for PLTW courses, and the club truly represents our “brand” through competitions and community service.

We aimed to increase student interest and awareness in our engineering club by providing members with free lunch once a month and by participating in an academic pep rally – both of which are new traditions that gave us opportunities to showcase our academy and club purpose, as well as our projects, to the entire school.

One of our board members from Coastal Engineering also provided each student with an academy T-shirt that was created by one of our own students through a design contest – part of an existing tradition.

Additionally, we held our second annual Engineering Senior Signing Day and Recognition BBQ in which seniors in our academy and club were recognized if they chose to pursue an engineering major at a college or university of their choice. Lunch, hats, and T-shirts of each respective school were provided to the seniors, courtesy of our board members at Azimuth Technology and FineMark Bank.

Career Learning Opportunities

Our second goal for the 2018-19 school year was to increase work-based learning opportunities for our students.

Thanks to our advisory board, students were able to participate in multiple work-based learning activities, including site visits, guest speakers, and mock interviews.

Students also have the opportunity to earn internships from our board members at Stantec, Coastal Engineering, FineMark Bank, Deangelis Diamond Construction, RWA Consulting, ABB Engineering, Lennar Homes Azimuth Technology, and Pelican Wire.

“The work-based learning experiences we take part in give us opportunities to look into any engineering path we choose,” said Logan Szittai, a rising senior at NHS Academy of Engineering who has taken Principles of Engineering.

PLTW’s blog intends to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.