Centers for Applied Competitive Technologies - Making It In California
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San Diego City College

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Inquiring Minds Want to Fly

February 2007

On February 22, Prof. Truc Ngo and four professional engineers presented the various stages of manufacturing engineering to 150 students at Eastlake High School. These students, ranging from grades 9-12, were all taking Project Lead the Way courses at Eastlake under the direction of instructors AJ Ronacher and Leo Ulloa. The professional engineers represented academia - University of San Diego Engineering - and from industry - Motorola, Kyocera, Inc., and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC).

The engineers shared their background and current position with the group. Then each engineer spoke about a stage in the manufacturing process: customer/market demand, design, R&D, production, quality/inspection/testing and product delivery/customer support. Hearing actual engineers discuss manufacturing principles validates those same lessons presented in class. For the culminating segment of the presentation, students had to build a paper airplane. The winning plane was judged on distance and maintaining pre-determined flight path. Students were then divided into five groups managed by an engineer. Each group was divided into subgroups and given specific stages to work on –design, production and testing. Excitement built as each group launched its airplane! The winning aircraft stayed in the air approximately 55 feet in a 15 feet flying lane!

The Eastlake instructors were very pleased with the presentation and sent this sample of remarks to the engineers:

“You were right on the mark to show students that solving problems can really be fun.”

“It allowed students to see that engineers are real people who can be approached, talked to and trusted.”

“You and your colleagues helped to make the path to becoming an engineer appear to be more achievable.”

Kudos to Prof. Ngo, and engineers Simon Rizk, Dr. Kathleen Kramer, Dr. Jerry Gormley, Kevin Cotner for this successful event!

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