PLTW High School Pre-Engineering Course Descriptions
Foundation Courses   |   Specialty Courses   |   Capstone Course

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Foundation Courses:

High School............................1 year 1 unit

This course emphasizes the development of a design. Students use computer software to produce, analyze and evaluate models of project solutions. They study the design concepts of form and function, then use state of the art technology to translate conceptual design into reproducible products. This course teaches students to:

  • Understand and apply the design process to solve various problems in a team setting;
  • Apply adaptive design concepts in developing sketches, features, parts and assemblies;
  • Interpret their own sketches in using computer software to design models;
  • Understand mass property calculations-such as volume, density, mass, surface area, moment of inertia, product of inertia, radii of gyration, principal axis and principle moments-and how they are used to evaluate a parametric model;
  • Understand cost analysis, quality control, staffing needs, packing and product marketing;
  • Explore career opportunities in design engineering and understand what skills and education these jobs require; and
  • Develop portfolios to display their designs and present them properly to peers, instructors and professionals.

Requisite: Concurrent enrollment in college preparatory Mathematics (Please see a MEA instructor or counselor.)

High School............................1 year 1 unit

This course provides and overview of engineering and engineering technology. Students develop problem-solving skills by tackling real-world engineering problems. Through theory and practical hands-on experiences, students address the emerging social and political consequences of technological change. The course of study includes:

  • Overview and Perspective of Engineering. Students learn about the types of engineers and their contributions to society.
  • Design Process. Students learn about problems solving and how products are developed to include how engineers work in teams.
  • Communication and Documentation. Students collect and categorize data, produce graphic representations, keep an engineer's notebook and make written and oral presentations.
  • Engineering Systems. Students learn about the mechanical, electrical, fluid and pneumatic and control systems.
  • Statics. Students learn about measurement, scalars and vectors, equilibrium, structural analysis, and strength of materials.
  • Materials and Materials Testing. Students learn the categories and properties of materials, how materials are shaped and joined, and material testing.
  • Thermodynamics. Students will learn about units and forms of energy, energy conversion, cycles, efficiency and energy loss, and conservation techniques.
  • Engineering Quality and Reliability. Students will use precision measurement tools to gather and apply statistics for quality and process control. Students will also learn about reliability, redundancy, risk analysis, factors of safety, and liability and ethics.
  • Dynamics. Students will be introduced to linear and trajectory motion.

Requisite: Concurrent enrollment in college preparatory Mathematics (Please see a MEA instructor or counselor.)

High School............................1 year 1 unit

This course introduces students to applied digital logic, a key elements of careers in engineering and engineering technology. This course explores the smart circuits found in watches, calculators, video games, and computers. Students use industry standard computer software in testing and analyzing digital circuitry. They design circuits to solve problems, export their designs to a printed circuit auto-routing program that generates printed circuit boards, and use appropriate components to build their designs. Students use mathematics and science in solving real-world engineering problems. This course covers several topics including:

  • Analog and digital fundamentals;
  • Number systems and binary addition;
  • Logic gates and functions;
  • Boolean algebra and circuit design; and
  • Decoders, multiplexers and de-multiplexers.

Requisite: Concurrent enrollment in college preparatory Mathematics (Please see a MEA instructor or counselor.)

Specialty Courses:

High School............................1 year 1 unit

This course teaches the fundamentals of computerized manufacturing technology. It builds on the solid-modeling skills developed in the Introduction to Engineering design course. Students use 3-D computer software to solve design problems. They assess their solutions through mass property analysis (the relationship of design, function, and materials), modify their designs, and use prototyping equipment to produce 3-D models. The course includes these integrated concepts:

  • Computer modeling: Students use 3-D software for mass property analysis.
  • Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Equipment: Students develop an understanding of the operating procedures and programming capabilities of machine tools.
  • Computer-aided Manufacturing (CAM): Students convert computer-generated geometry into a program to direct the operation of CNC machine tools.
  • Robotics: Students program robots to handle materials in assembly-line operations
  • Flexible Manufacturing Systems: Teams of students design manufacturing work cells and tabletop factories to solve complex problems that arise in integrating multiple pieces of computer-controlled equipment.

Requisite: Concurrent enrollment in college preparatory Mathematics (Please see a MEA instructor or counselor.)

High School............................1 year 1 unit

The major focus of the Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA) course is a long-term project that involves the development of a local property site. As students learn about various aspects of civil engineering and architecture, they apply what they learn to the design and development of this property. The course provides freedom to the teacher and students to develop the property as a simulation or to students to model the real-world experiences that civil engineers and architects experience when developing property.

The CEA course is intended to serve as a specialization course within the Project Lead The Way sequence. The course is structured to enable all students to have a variety of experiences that will provide an overview of both fields. Students work in teams, exploring hands-on projects and activities to learn the characteristics of civil engineering and architecture.

In addition, students use Rivet, which is a state of the art 3-D design software package from AutoDesk, to help them design solutions to solve their major course project. Students learn about documenting their project, solving problems, and communicating their solutions to their peers and members of the professional community of civil engineering and architecture.

The course of study includes:

  • The Roles of Civil Engineers and Architects
  • Project Planning
  • Site Planning
  • Building Design
  • Project Documentation and Presentation

Requisite: Concurrent enrollment in college preparatory Mathematics (Please see a MEA instructor or counselor.)

Capstone Course:

High School............................1 year 1 unit

This course allows students apply what they have learned in academic and pre-engineering courses as they complete challenging, self-direct projects. Students work in teams to design and build solutions to authentic engineering problems. An engineer from the school's partnership team mentors each student team. Students keep journals of notes, sketches, mathematical calculations and scientific research. Student teams make progress reports to their peers, mentor and instructor and exchange constructive criticism and consultation. At the end of the course, teams present their research paper and defend their projects to a panel of engineers, business leaders and engineering college educators for professional review and feedback. This course equips students with the independent study skills that they will need in postsecondary education and careers in engineering and engineering technology.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Engineering Design, Digital Electronics, Principles of Engineering, and a PLTW specialty course (one may be concurrent)

Requisite: Concurrent enrollment in College Preparatory Mathematics (Please see a MEA instructor or counselor.)

* Course pending implementation at McKinley High School