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High School Enterprise: Introducing Engineering Design In A High School Team Environment

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Early Engineering Design Experiences

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.643.1 - 15.643.20



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Paper Authors

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Douglas Oppliger Michigan Technological University

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Jean Kampe Michigan Technological University

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

High School Enterprise: Introducing Engineering Design in a High School Team Environment Abstract

In efforts to promote interest in engineering careers among secondary students, across the country there are several current initiatives intended to introduce engineering concepts at pre- college levels. There are basically three approaches in use: teach the concepts in a course dedicated to engineering, blend them into traditional courses such as math and science, or expose students to engineering in a project work environment. For concepts such as engineering design and project management, the project-based approach may be best. High School Enterprise (HSE) offers a project-based learning environment well suited to the introduction of these concepts. HSE is an extra- or in-curricular school activity where students from grades 9-12 engage in authentic, inquiry-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning. Students participate on teams organized as virtual companies that develop products or services. Each year, there is a capstone event where secondary student teams gather on a university campus to present their project work alongside college teams to an audience of university faculty and students and industry representatives. The overarching goal of HSE is to seed and cultivate what will become a world-class and broadly inclusive science and technology workforce. Due to the long-term nature of the projects, there are many opportunities to introduce, and then spend significant time on, the engineering design process. To introduce engineering design concepts into this program, the topic was presented to teachers during a week-long workshop in the summers of 2008 and 2009. In 2008, the presentation was of a general nature and intended as a very basic introduction, while in 2009, a more extensive unit was presented encompassing both design and project management. This paper provides information on the current efforts to introduce engineering topics at the high school level and where HSE fits into this landscape. It describes the High School Enterprise program and how secondary students and teachers are exposed to engineering design. Some examples of student-project work from the 2008/2009 academic year that convey how students engage in the design process are included. Finally, the lessons learned to-date and how those lessons are helping to shape plans for future development and assessment are discussed.

The National Landscape of High School Engineering

Until just a few years ago, there were very few high schools that had any sort of engineering curriculum other than a small selection of graphics courses such as drafting and computer aided drafting. As of late, there has been a push to get more engineering content into high school curriculums. Today several state education standards address engineering to some degree, but there is considerable variation among those state standards, and the national effort to introduce such standards is still in its infancy. Indeed, the National Academy of Engineering is currently conducting a study (due out in March 2010) on K-12 engineering education standards. The Academy states: “The goal of this exploratory project is to assess the potential value and feasibility of developing and implementing content standards for engineering education in K- 12.” 1

Oppliger, D., & Kampe, J. (2010, June), High School Enterprise: Introducing Engineering Design In A High School Team Environment Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15996

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