Top STEM Curriculum Developer Brings Engineering Design Course to Mount Si Freshman Campus

This is a guest post by Stephanie Hager, education advocate and mother of four SVSD students.


Imagine after the first day of school you hear “Mom, Dad – learning is fun!”

We can’t promise kids will admit to it, but that’s what they’ll be thinking after their first Introduction to Engineering Design computer lab class – a new STEM course offered at the Mount Si Freshman Campus starting this fall.

PLTW3/2/13This course is designed and developed by Project Lead the Way, a non-profit organization that “…is the leading provider of rigorous and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education curricular programs used in middle schools and high schools across the U.S.”

That may sound vague, but in practice students will assemble into teams and become inventors. They may start by designing a skateboard, perhaps re-designing their cell phone, or may be told to reverse engineer an existing product on the market today.

Students will take their designs through all phases of product development, starting with brainstorming, identifying the customer needs, creating a timeline, developing a conceptual framework, prototyping, actual development, testing, evaluation, reiteration and ultimately – production.

Introduction to Engineering Design I & II is the introductory, first year of a 4-part sequence, that takes students through 12th grade in a high school engineering program.

Students need not necessarily be on an engineering track to take this introductory course. It is designed and recommended for everyone and anyone who likes to create, design, build, discover and collaborate with friends in a project and activity-based hands-on classroom.

We sat down with Kyle Warren this week, Mount Si High School’s Computer Science and Robotics teacher, to learn what students can expect by registering for the class debuting at the freshman campus fall 2013.

Here’s some of the cool stuff students in Introduction to Engineering Design will experience:

  • Each student will be equipped with their own laptop during class
  • Kids will work in groups by collaborating on projects
  • Students will use Inventor by Autodesk (similar to a 3D Modeling/CAD program)
  • Everyone gets a chance at being Team Lead – as team roles will rotate between projects
  • Business professionals visit the class to de-mystify what “engineering” really is

What kids won’t see, but will gain, is the ability to think critically and problem solve by engaging in a variety of projects throughout the semester(s). We say semesters plural because students have the choice of taking IED I (1 semester) or IED I & II (2 semesters). The single semester class consists of a series of tiny projects. In the 2nd semester class students manage 2 or 3 projects with higher complexity.

While every good design starts with paper and pencil, these project designs go steps further, with students creating their invention in a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) program by Autodesk.  Across the internet there are assignment examples students can expect in this beginning engineering course.  High school kids across the country are developing remarkable and fascinating online prototypes with the help of Project Lead the Way’s engineering course.

Here are a few completed projects from the Introduction to Engineering Design class that might wow you:

Mr. Warren (MSHS’s Computer Science and Robotics teacher), Mr. Adams (MSHS’s Engineering Design and Architecture teacher) and Mr. Kurka (MSHS’s Horticulture teacher) will instruct Introduction to Engineering Design. When asked if this class would be available to sophomores, Mr. Warren said “that is our hope” in the next year or two.

Students taking this class fulfill their Occupational Education requirement for graduation in Washington State, as the course counts as a CTE or Elective class. If they take Fit for Life + Intro to Eng Design combination course, they fulfill .5 of the Occ Ed credit. If they take the full year of Intro to Eng Design, they fulfill 1 Occ Ed credit. One CTE credit is required for high school graduation.

Some colleges, such as Eastern Washington University, provide scholarships for students who participate in high school PLTW classes and meet certain benchmarks.  Others, such as the University of Washington’s Gear Up program, have also issued grants to schools to offer PLTW coursework.

How these new courses count towards College Minimum Admission Requirements(CADR) is unclear, but colleges are starting to figure it out as Project Lead the Way STEM classes are becoming increasing popular in many area high schools.

Mr. Warren says that with these new courses they’re “hoping to broaden students’ ideas of where they can go” –  and we think they’ll do just that.

Pre-registration for incoming 9th graders happens this week, March 4-8, 2013.

Happy Registering!  ~ Steph (Hager) and Danna

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  • My Bad. The link for this “Others, such as the University of Washington’s Gear Up program, have also issued grants to schools to offer PLTW coursework” should be linked to this website:

    I messed up and included the wrong link in the article above.

  • Living Snoqualmie