Class Profile: Engineering Design

Danielle Deraleau, Staff Writer

     A new class has been introduced this year entitled Engineering Design. The class counts as a fourth year science credit and is two semesters long.  

     “I didn’t know about the class originally, but one of my friends told me about the class and how much fun he had and I transferred into it a week into school,” senior Thomas Langford said. “I had signed up for architectural design, but they cancelled it, and this class sounded like a good second option.”

     The classes are taught by Joseph Fawcett and Kevin Ng. Fawcett helped design the class.

     “I worked on it for six weeks at UT Dallas two summers ago, and then at UT Austin the summer before last,” Fawcett said. “Mr. Hixon and myself managed to get it approved as a course here at Plano.”

     Because this is the first year the course has been offered, Fawcett said he was paying attention to whether or not the students seem to be enjoying it.

     “We’re still kind of honing in on the details.” Fawcett said, “We were surprised that we had so many students sign up for the course.”

     One of the students to sign up for the new class was senior Carl Swanson. Swanson has an interest in engineering, and noticed the class when he was creating his senior schedule. 

     “Most of the [engineering in this class] is physical so it’s a little different than I’m used to,” Swanson said. “But doing physical things, you can actually see it, know how the inner workings of things are, and learn how you can produce a product later on.”

     The first project the class did was deconstructing a hairdryer. They looked at how it worked and any possible modifications or improvements they could make. The class calls this process reverse engineering.

     “I like it, it’s different from a normal class where there’s always a right and a wrong answer,” Langford said. “The one thing I really like that Mr. Ng says is ‘As long as you can justify your answer I’m not going to say you’re wrong.’”

     The class focuses mainly on projects instead of paperwork. The new course functions in a project-to-project way, meaning when one project ends another one begins.

     “The idea behind the curriculum is that it’s not really lecture based,” Fawcett said. “They’re given a project with certain design parameters and in order to complete the project they’ll need to learn certain things.”

     Senior Alex Miranda likes the structure of the class so far. His counselor had recommended the class to him because it was a hands on class.

      “There’s a lot of creative room to explore ideas in that class,” Miranda said. “All the possibilities for our projects are really cool.”

     The class recently learned about a pinhole camera and how it functions. Their new project involves designing a camera themselves. They will take a picture with that camera and then develop it on paper.

     “You have to actually think of what you’re doing, you can’t just throw items out there and be silly,” Swanson said. “You have to be more serious. But you can have fun while you’re being serious.”

     Fawcett said that the information the students learn in class is important to how successful their project will be.

     “People assume it’s a blow off class, but I’ve realized that if you don’t keep up with your work it all catches up with you really quickly,” Langford said. “You have to be really studious with your engineering notebook.”

     Fawcett has heard good feedback about the class so far. There are a few things he wants the students to learn.

     “Hopefully they’ll learn something about the engineering process,” Fawcett said. “Hopefully [they’ll learn] whether or not they want to be engineers, and a structured way to solve problems.”