Briarcliff High School To Offer New Engineering Capstone Course in Fall

Hydraulic Excavator built by students in Mr. Sandomenico’s class

Taking an engineering class can give you a pretty good idea of what the field is all about. But how can you tell if engineering is the right profession for you?

In fall 2023, Briarcliff High School students who are thinking about majoring in engineering in college will have the opportunity to see what working as an engineer would be like.

The school will be offering Engineering Design and Development as an elective, which will be taught by either teachers Chris Lo or Ted Sandomenico.

“Ted and I wanted to create a course which would bring together all of the knowledge that students who have taken Introduction to Engineering and Principals of Engineering have learned,” Lo said. “It will culminate in a team project, which makes it a capstone course. It is for juniors and seniors who have taken both engineering courses.”

According to Lo, students will research a problem that they want to solve using engineering and look up different methods for how to solve it. They will conduct surveys to find out people’s opinions and will also reach out to local engineers who might be able to advise them.

“In Intro to Engineering, students build a cardboard chair,” Lo said. “They create something that is comfortable to sit on, which is also aesthetically pleasing. In the new engineering course, students can build something using more substantial material. We always recommend that students start with something simple and build on that, such as using a different material, or adding features.”

Students will have a chance to explore all types of engineering in the course.

“There has to be a physical component to this project, so if they want to explore computer engineering, they will, perhaps, build a chip,” Lo said. “They can even engineer a bridge and build a prototype. They will do a proof of concept and build a scaled model.”

Students will have access to a variety of materials.

“We will have a budget and may be able to purchase material, or use recycled material,” Sandomenico said. “For example, if a student wants to build a wind turbine, they could use recycled metal.”

The next stage in the project will be developing and testing prototypes. Students will create a detailed drawing of what they want to build, as well as provide a timeline.

“We will teach them how to manage their project and oversee the stages to make sure that they are progressing as planned,” Lo said. “In the other two courses, the timelines are prescribed, but here, it is entirely up to the teams to create one.”

At the end of the school year, students will present their project to a panel of teachers and possibly engineers.

“This is a great course for students interested in engineering but who may not be sure what kind,” Lo said. “It is also great for students who are building something as a science research project, because they will be able to use the time in this class to build and research. We also want to encourage students in our robotics team to come here to build their robots. I would recommend this course to anyone who is interested in building something towards solving a problem.”

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