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Enticing High School Students Into Engineering Technology With A Simple Industrial Process Control Module

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.460.1 - 6.460.9



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John Marshall

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2548

Enticing High School Students into Engineering Technology with a Simple Industrial Process Control Module

John Allen Marshall, Ph.D. University of Southern Maine


Too few high school students understand that a career in Engineering and Engineering Technology can genuinely be exciting and neat. Some have the short-term view that good paying jobs are plentiful, so why take the really difficult courses. Many sell their own abilities short and convince themselves that it is too difficult a career path. And still others conjure up the image of a dirty, dull, dangerous, and demeaning factory floor and run (not walk) in the other direction.

What is needed to turn these impressions around are exciting exposures to engineering topics in existing high school courses such as technology education, science, math and physics. The purpose of this paper is to identify exactly one such exciting module that has been successfully used to build bridges that link high school students to an engineering career path.

Case Study

The University’s relationship with a local high school began with a simple invitation to their technology education teacher. When asked if he would be interested in bringing a class to tour our Industrial Power Transmission and Control laboratory, our phone call was answered with a slightly skeptical – perhaps. The teacher wanted to visit us first and determine the usefulness of bringing a class to campus.

His skepticism resulted from a fear that a highly theoretical environment would intimidate and turn-off his students. He was however, searching for a method to motivate and challenge his classes. Immediately upon arriving, he began to see an environment that blended the theory of industrial power and control with “hands-on” fabrication of automated cells. Hydraulic and pneumatic “gadgets” supervised by programmable logic controllers (PLC) were manipulating tennis balls and golf balls in a whirl of motion, noise, and excitement. This was really neat “stuff” that his student’s would love!

The subsequent class visit was a huge success. Before the afternoon was over, high school boys and girls were developing ladder logic and programming the PLC to sequence lights, motors, and buzzers. They never imagined that learning could be so much fun or what they could accomplish in a few short hours.

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Marshall, J. (2001, June), Enticing High School Students Into Engineering Technology With A Simple Industrial Process Control Module Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9225

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