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Fundamental of Engineering student Solomon Hill makes adjustments to his robot minutes before a competition.

Takoma Academy STEM Department Adds Engineering Program

Story by Salena Featherstone

The Potomac Conference Takoma Academy (TA) STEM department is continuing to improve the quality of education and engagement for students. TA launched its inaugural Fundamentals of Engineering course this year. It is designed to provide students with real-world, 21st century skills to become successful engineers. The course provides an overview of the many engineering disciplines, principles, equations and competencies students need to be successful in their collegiate, internship and professional careers.

Students are introduced to mechanics, statics, computer science, electronics, computer-aided design (CAD) and additive manufacturing (3-D printing). They are taught and coached by practicing engineers, an engineering technologist, engineering graduate students and volunteers. The mission is to provide students with the kind of exposure to the field of engineering that will lead to success in college and beyond.

Next school year, a second engineering course will launch: Introduction to Engineering Design. Students will be exposed to the engineering design process and trained in industry-leading CAD and 3-D printing software and hardware. They will also be able to take an assessment which certifies them in SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor or Autodesk Fusion 360 CAD software.

Students will utilize the school’s 3-D printers and become fully engaged in the design and iteration process of engineering. Those who complete the two years of engineering courses will be eligible to receive an academic medallion at graduation. While the course work is challenging, it provides the kind of problem-solving, collaborative environment that mimics the daily life of a professional engineer.

Milton Davis’ team leads the school’s Engineering Club, a junior chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Sheri Thorn (’09) continues to act as advisor and sponsor of NSBE, the largest extracurricular club at TA. NSBE provides students with a fun, educational opportunity that encourages hard work, creativity and collaboration from its members. Students compete in local robotics and Ten80 competitions. Last March they had the opportunity to travel to the NSBE Annual Convention in Detroit, Mich., where they learned more about the engineering industry. Students will also have an opportunity to network with representatives from companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing as they compete for scholarships and internship opportunities.

Engineering teacher Shaun Robinson shares, “Takoma Academy’s engineering component of its STEM program is opening doors for students who want to experience real-world challenges and interact with individuals currently working in the industry!”

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