Engineering By Design

Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh

After initial funding from the BHS Innovation Fund, Engineering by Design is now fully integrated into the Brookline High School curriculum.

Engineering by Design was launched in the fall of 2006. The Program was designed to address a major national issue:

  • Fewer college students, particularly females, are majoring in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) despite the technology boom.
  • Massachusetts ranks second to last of New England states among Science and Technology majors.
  • Future economic growth nationally depends upon STEM talent.

Engineering by Design was developed by teachers from all areas of the BHS Science Department in collaboration with the Tufts University School of Engineering. Together, they created a curriculum challenging students to identify problems, design, build, and test their solutions. The program offers students a look at the fundamentals of engineering, allowing them to take on the roles of engineers as they design solutions to real world problems. Projects are interdisciplinary in nature and draw from the fields of Biomedical, Chemical, Electrical, Civil, Environmental, Mechanical, and Materials Science Engineering. Projects include building and programming robots, designing clean energy storage devices, and modeling real-time biosensors. Students explore the cutting edge of biomedical engineering as well as examining the accomplishments and failures of important projects throughout history.

Students who take this course at BHS are more prepared to make an informed career decision regarding engineering. Furthermore, students should discover that engineering is fun, interesting, and intellectually rewarding. These students:

  • Learn the range of engineering disciplines by surveying several areas of this profession;
  • Develop problem-solving skills;
  • Collaborate as part of a team on long-term projects;
  • Learn that design is a structured process; and
  • Apply the principles of design to projects with practical and useful benefits to society.

The Program was successfully launched in 2006. Twenty-eight students participated in a team-taught class. College choices of participating students are being tracked.  Now in its third year, teachers of the course have observed a trend that every year students produce new and more sophisticated designs than the year before and the class data as a whole improves.

I chose to take Engineering by Design because I learn a lot more through hands on activities,” said one Engineering by Design student. “I have a hard time keeping focused when I am just lectured to all day. This program taught me all of the things necessary to do if you want to be a good engineer. It takes time, designing, planning and patience. It also showed me how fun engineering can be. After doing this program I feel like I can fix, design, or build anything. My favorite part of this program has been to put my creative mind into physical things. My other classes don’t allow me to express my creative ideas.”