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Collaboration + Problem Solving = Engineering

Written by Jack Strauss '23

When I was deciding on my senior courses, I wanted to try different classes that I hadn’t learned about. I was drawn towards engineering because of the mix of math and science. I wanted to expand my current knowledge of math and science through application projects. Entering my first day of class, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have any background in engineering, and I wasn’t sure what it entailed. I quickly learned that engineering has a broad definition due to its various fields. One of our first assignments was to identify the different disciplines of engineering. These disciplines ranged from aerospace engineering, structural engineering, and molecular engineering. I learned the common denominator in all these fields is problem-solving. The foundation of engineering is being able to identify a problem and create an effective solution.

In the first few weeks of this project-based class, we started with a structural engineering lab. Our first problem was to create a bridge using a limited amount of paper board that could withstand a large amount of weight. The success of the bridge was dependent on selecting which was the best prototype through trial and error. Our first design was able to hold a load of 3,750 grams. We learned what was successful and made the necessary changes to improve the structure. In the end, our bridge was able to withstand over 4,000 grams. In the next project, we designed and built a rocket. This project taught us to think outside of the box through the many resources offered. For example, we are learning how to use the laser cutter and the 3D printer to create custom pieces for our rocket. Both projects are completed within a group, which promotes a collaborative workspace. Our groups are always communicating with each other and sharing ideas. The collaborative environment allows us to learn from each other.

As college approaches next year, I plan to enter undecided. This class has introduced me to engineering and has familiarized me with many different fields and opportunities. Even if I don’t continue engineering, the skills and lessons I learn in engineering will be beneficial to me in whatever career I choose. In this class, I’ve learned to problem solve by thinking outside of the box and adapting. Due to the group projects, I’ve learned how to work with my classmates and collaborate to solve problems together. I’m glad that I was able to take this engineering class and get a new perspective in the areas of math and science.