June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
12.690.1 - 12.690.11
Establishment of an Engineering Education Program at Roanoke Valley Governor’s School Introduction
To address the growing need for engineering practitioners in the United States and to introduce engineering to secondary school students, Roanoke Valley Governor’s School (a.k.a. – RVGS) has initiated an innovative engineering education program. This program is adaptable to other governor school’s as well as to conventional, main stream, high school institutions. RVGS, which is similar to other Virginia governor’s schools, provides accelerated high school education for gifted learners. RVGS has a service area of twelve high schools and places a strong emphasis on science and mathematics. Thus, the new engineering program adds to the existing strong curriculum of the school. Prior to 2006, RVGS did not have a dedicated course in engineering. Now, a new course called Governor’s School Engineering (a.k.a. – GSEN) exists. This class provides a thorough introduction to the engineering professions and engineering mechanics for high school seniors via an asynchronous-distance learning format. In addition to meeting course requirements, students also participate in a regional robotics competition. Also new to RVGS and its new engineering program is the establishment of on-site computer workstations to assist students with engineering related course work and research. By participating in this education program, talented, hard working students are encouraged to stay in engineering since they learn important fundamental subjects in a well structured yet open minded and supportive environment.
Many high schools offer courses in engineering. Due to a lack of pre-requisite classes, these courses are usually introductory in nature and do not offer opportunities for students to study vector and calculus based engineering mechanics1. The course coverage in GESN is the same as that offered in a freshman or sophomore university level statics class, making it unique for a high school curriculum. Exposing high school students to engineering before they apply to a college or university is beneficial since the rigorous course load of a university program makes it difficult to complete an intended major without adding an extra year (or more) to the required time.2 The first-third of GSEN focuses on the engineering profession and quantitative methods. The last two-thirds of GSEN focuses on the instruction of statics of rigid bodies using vector algebra and calculus. University statics courses have traditionally been used to increase attrition in engineering programs. Often, students who complete such courses do not develop a proper foundation for additional engineering coursework. Many have to repeat this course or take it at a local community college that offers an atmosphere more conducive to learning. Some university students, frustrated with the pace and lack of personal attention, become disillusioned with engineering and pursue other professions. Providing the opportunity of in-depth engineering education at a high school level will encourage talented students to continue in this profession.
Due to the special environment provided by governor’s schools, there is a high level of confidence in student success in GSEN. Early on students are exposed to subjects that are usually reserved for instruction in the freshman college year of engineering. GSEN itself is comprised of two parts. Part One (approximately one-third of the course) emphasizes the engineering professions, problem solving techniques, and engineering design. Part Two addresses the study of statics of rigid bodies in two and three dimensions. This course is available to students at
Spangler, D., & Pierrakos, O. (2007, June), Establishment Of An Engineering Education Program At Roanoke Valley Governor’s School Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2979
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