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Proviso West Engineers New Class Through Project Lead the Way

February 5, 2015 03:25 PM
It was a typical afternoon for the students in Mr. Matthew Dillard’s Project Lead the Way pre-engineering class at Proviso West High School as they worked through the design of a car windshield.
It was one of many components for the overall project that is being completed on the computer-aided design (CAD) programs on the laptop computers, said Kayla Banks, a Proviso West freshman and a student in the class.
"We’re creating the parts, then putting them together," she said as she calculated the numbers used in the design.
The project is part of the new pre-engineering class through Project Lead the Way. Project Lead the Way is a national provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs, according to its website. The curriculum, which relies on the students completing projects, is designed to boost math and science achievement and encourage students to consider engineering as a career path.
"There is a shortage of engineers in our nation," said Mr. Oscar Hawthorne, principal at Proviso West. "With this class, students get a look at what engineers do, and we are hoping that it will encourage several of them to consider engineering as a career pathway."
The class, which this year was open only to freshmen at Proviso West, is taught by Mr. Dillard. Mr. Dillard, who also teaches technology at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, is an engineer by trade, having worked as a structural engineer in the Air Force and as a mechanical engineer with Westinghouse before coming to District 209. He said that the pre-engineering class is designed to provide exposure to the different aspects of engineering.
"It prepares kids for the things they would be in college if they were to major in engineering," he said. "The CAD program is creating some added interest that wasn’t there, and they’re learning new math skills."
Students are selected for the class based on their math and science scores on the EXPLORE placement exams. In the class, they use CAD programs to reverse engineer a car, studying the various components that go into a car before they are put together to create the vehicle.
Kayla Banks, who said that her science teacher at Westchester Middle School recommended that she apply to take the class, said that she was enjoying the class.
"It’s getting fun because we get to be on the computer and make stuff," she said.
Luigi Cabantog, a Proviso West freshman, said that the class is "very advanced" for freshmen. He said that he and his classmates have adjusted well to the rigor of the class.
"It was new to everyone," said Luigi, who also was referred to the class by his science teacher at Westchester Middle School. "We help each other and Mr. Dillard helps us."
Mrs. Kim Echols, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction District 209, said that the District hopes to expand the Project Lead the Way classes to Proviso East High School in the future. Mr. Dillard said that the plan is for sophomores to take another Project Lead the Way course, Principles of Engineering, next year, while in the future juniors could take courses in specific areas of engineering including structural, electrical, and mechanical.
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